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Storage and disposal of medicines, what about expired medicines?

Przechowywanie i utylizacja leków

Storage and disposal of medicines, what about expired medicines?

Medicines are an indispensable, but usually undesirable part of our lives. Thanks to the development of medicine, each of us has had contact with them many times. However, we usually pay most attention to the way of ingesting them and this is what usually sticks in our minds. After all, it is very important to take the right dose for us. Unfortunately, we often overlook the equally important issue of how to store medicines. Few people are also interested in what to do with the medicine after its expiry date. Below you will find answers to these and other questions.

How to store medicines?

The basic thing responsible for our safety is the necessity to store medicines in their original packaging. Even if we know that some medicine is in a different packaging, someone else simply does not have the right to have such knowledge, which can end tragically. If the original packaging is lost or damaged, there are many ways to make it easier to identify the medicine. You can, for example, sign the blister with a marker or attach a sticky note. The most important thing is not to put one medicine in the pack after another. It is not even advisable to use a pack of the same medicine because of its expiry date, but this is by far the least acceptable evil.

Also, remember to store medicines out of reach of children, room temperature (15-25 degrees), away from sunlight and moisture. Ideas for storing medicines abound, but in a domestic setting a kitchen cupboard may be a suitable place for them.

How often should we check the home medicine cabinet?

The first aid kit at home should be ready for action at all times. It can come in handy at any time. Of course, we are only human and we may not remember the exact expiry dates of specific items. Fortunately, most of them can be used for a long time after purchase. Nevertheless, it is advisable to check the contents of your first aid kit at least once every six months. To ensure that you do not forget, you can do this on the occasion of a check-up with your dentist at a similar interval. 

Where do I dispose of my expired medicines?

Most importantly: expired medicines are not suitable food for the municipal waste bin, let alone the toilet. After all, medicines are strong chemicals that threaten soils, waters and also animals. Such behaviour is extremely irresponsible and simply stupid. This is not what we do.

Fortunately, the disposal of medicines nowadays is not complicated. Waste from our medicine cabinet should be thrown away in the right place. Such places are: containers for medical waste or antibacterial bins. The waste will stay there until the next stage of disposal.

Pharmacies or municipalities organise collections of out-of-date medicines from time to time

It is worth going into a pharmacy one day and asking about it. Once you have handed in your waste at the collection point, you are not interested in what happens to it. The municipality will take care of it.

How are the containers for medical waste adapted?

There are many types of containers for medical waste. You can choose between small containers for 'small stuff' and large bins for medical waste. The choice depends on the intended use, generally all types will be good. However, it is worth noting that segregation of waste is an important factor here. To segregate your waste correctly, you should read the diagram below.

Read: How should I separate difficult waste?

Basic waste bins are distinguished by their colour:

  • Red - they are used to store agents that can cause illness, i.e. used bandages, tampons, nappies. So-called "biological weapons".

  • Yellow rubbish bins - store potentially dangerous chemical elements, e.g. cytostatic drugs

Other coloured bins (usually black dustbins or blue dustbins) - store items that are not suitable for placement in the above two.

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