How should medications be disposed of?

Many of us find that we need to take medication, whether it’s to combat a short-term illness or to help relieve the symptoms of a chronic health condition. But what should be done with medication that is no longer needed?

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The safe handling of medication

None of us want our unused medications to fall into the wrong hands, or potentially pollute the natural world. It’s important to know that the safe handling of medication also includes its safe disposal. Expert training providers such as Tidal Training can teach the necessary knowledge of how to put the right processes in place for dealing with unwanted medication in the right way.

Of course, being mindful of our environment is also important. Read here about how to recycle the packaging that accompanies our medicines, such as bottles, boxes, inserts, lids and blister packs..

Read to learn

Most medication packaging will include information for its safe disposal, including whether it can be thrown or flushed away in ordinary household waste. However, do not crush or break up tablets and pills before getting rid of them in this way.

It’s always important to anonymise the packaging that the medication came in before getting rid of it. This means removing any labels that display personal information such as a name, address or date of birth. This will help to protect you from the risk of identity theft.

Pass it back

It can seem tempting to hang onto medications if they are no longer needed, with a view to saving them for a recurrence of your symptoms, or even to share them with a family member or friend. After all, prescriptions can be expensive! However, doing so is incredibly dangerous. Only your doctor has the expertise to determine if a medication is right for you and your current state of health, and using the wrong medication can lead to serious complications.

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Instead, return your unused medications to a local pharmacy. They may be able to reuse unopened medicines or alternatively will be able to dispose of them safely.

Niru Eilish


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