Waste Medicines at Home: How to Deal With them?




Have you ever wondered what these medicines are lying in your medicine box at home and what to do with them? Is it always the case that you finish all the prescribed medications purchased? If your answers are ‘No’, then this wlog will help you to find a solution for those unused medicines.


Let’s take a tour of medicines, tablets, ointments, creams, capsules, syrups in our home. We see some of the medicines we forgot to consume, some are of no use now, and for some we don’t remember much. What would we generally do then? We keep them back, thinking that we will use them next time. But next time we may get different prescribed medicine and hence new medicines. It happens a lot and sometimes the medicine stock gets expired, or we tend to leave them aside although they are good to consume. One fine day we get on a house cleanup drive and throw the medicines as it is in the dustbin.

But, is it the way we should treat waste medicines at home? No, No, and No!


Medicines Waste (expired or unused) are pharmaceutical waste items. And like any other form of waste, such waste should be disposed properly and timely to avoid serious consequences. Improper disposal of such waste can cause environmental effects when they reach animals, water, and soil through landfills. And delayed destruction of waste / expired medicines can cause unintended effects like being misused or being consumed mistakenly.


So what is the safest way to dispose of them? When I encountered a similar question, I started looking for solutions. I learned that a few of them we can flush into toilets and our drainage pipelines. But which are those few, I couldn’t find so continued my search for answers. One day I went to my regular medical store to buy some prescribed medicines. As usual, I checked for the expiry date and I found that the tablets I got were expired. So I asked them to give new stock and keep that aside. Then I wondered what they do with these expired stock, so asked them about it. They said monthly they give back expired and damage stocks to distributors who then later take care of disposal. I asked if I bring them my household medicines which I am not using and want to throw them away, can they collect it. And they said 'Yes'. Thus, I found the solution to my pharmaceutical waste at home.


For medical and drug stores, it is mandatory to clear their expired stock regularly and take care of safe disposal. So I feel, dropping unused, and expired medicines to medical stores is the safest and easiest way for us.


Do you also have medicines at home that are expired or will not be used? Then see if you can find a medical store that can collect them for safe disposal. I am sure you will find one in your locality. But if you don’t find any such medical store who can collect your waste medicines, below are a few actions you should consider.

  • Ask: in the community of pharmacists and get answers from the experts in the field.

  • Flush out: only if you know that they are safe to flush in the toilets or drainage lines.

  • Contact the drug manufacturer: and check about the safe disposal method with them or if they can collect back.

  • Look for collection drives: if happening around who can collect the good and unused medicines.

  • Reach Authorized NGOs / Communities: who work around the healthcare sector and may accept medicines that are not expired but are good to use in the form of donations which will encourage the proper reuse of such medicines.

  • Segregate: in a separate box or small bag, label it as waste medicines (preferably in your local language), destroy personal information if any, from the drug bottles, stripes, etc. and then put in your dry waste. To avoid misuse of them, you can dilute them with water or some powder.

And above all, next time when you are heading to a medical store make sure you are not going to waste your precious money and precious medicines too.


I am sure after reading this wlog, you might want to check your medicines stock at home, which might have slightly increased during the recent ongoing pandemic. And you know now how to deal with it.


"Know that 'Segregating' Now is always a Better Choice than 'Regretting' Later. "


If you are someone who works in the pharma industry or medical store, do comment or share your knowledge about this topic at our social pages or on our email connect@inwaster.com.


Bharati Bastade Koot - #BBK

- an eco-warrior, humanist, minimalist who 'Writes for Impact', and a firm Believer in 'taking actions for the change that we want to see in the world'.

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