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How do I dispose of unwanted medication?
How do I dispose of unwanted medication?

How to dispose of unwanted medicines, needles or sharps

Chantal avatar
Written by Chantal
Updated over a week ago

Unused prescription medicines cost the NHS in the UK an estimated £300million every year. We can all do our bit to reduce this, as well as understand the risks unused medicines can cause.

If you have out of date or unwanted medicines, both prescription or over the counter, don’t bin them or flush them.

You can return prescription items that are no longer required to any community pharmacy. If you wish to return prescription items to our pharmacy, please repackage the items securely and contact us for details of how to return.

You can help

  • Let your GP or pharmacy know if you’ve stopped taking any of your medication

  • Be sure to check what medication you already have before re-ordering

  • Discuss your medication with your GP or Pharmacist on a regular basis

  • If you don’t need the medication, don’t order it. If you need the medication in the future you can still request it

  • If you need to go into hospital, remember to take all your medicines with you in a clearly marked bag

  • Remember that your medicines are prescribed only for you; it’s not safe to share them with anyone else

Remember that unused medicines cannot be recycled

  • Even if you never open them, once medication has left the Pharmacy, they cannot be recycled or used by anyone else

  • Never dispose of your unused or unwanted medicines down the toilet

  • You can return prescription items that are no longer required to any community pharmacy

Unused medicines are a safety risk

  • If your medication changes – remember to return your old medication to the pharmacy for safe disposal to avoid mixing them up with your new medicines

  • Don’t stockpile medication – it is a safety risk for children and others who might take them

  • Store medicines in an appropriate place out of reach of children. See our 'How do I store medication?' article for more information on this

For information on how to dispose of needles or sharps, click the button below

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