Unused or out of date medicine can pose a serious danger in the home. Over the next few weeks, Cork Kerry Community Healthcare, together with Cork City Council, Cork County Council and Kerry County Council, is asking the public to use a free service to dispose of their medications safely.
The ‘Dispose of Unused Medicines Properly’ (DUMP) campaign is running from Monday March 14th until Friday April 22nd with almost all pharmacies in Cork and Kerry taking part. This campaign allows the public to bring unused or out of date medicines to participating pharmacies to ensure that they are disposed of properly. The DUMP campaign has run successfully in Cork and Kerry since 2007. In 2018, more than 280 bins, containing more than four tonnes of medicines, were safely disposed of as part of this important campaign.
Unused or out-of-date medicines can build up in the home for a variety of reasons. Storing these medications long-term is not safe and can result in accidental poisonings, intentional overdose, inappropriate sharing of medicines and environmental damage.
- Accidental poisonings
In 2020, the National Poisons Information Centre in Beaumont Hospital received 11,687 enquiries involving poisoning. Over two thirds of these involved children and adolescents (67%) and most poisonings took place in the home (93%).
- Intentional overdose
In 2019, the National Suicide Research Foundation (NSRF) recorded 7,763 hospital presentations due to intentional overdose of prescription or over-the-counter medications. Paracetamol was the drug most commonly taken in overdose followed by a range of prescription medications. Between 2008 and 2017 the National Drug-Related Deaths Index (NDRDI) recorded 3,715 poisoning deaths. Opioids or painkiller medications were most commonly involved in these deaths.
- Inappropriate sharing of medicines
It is critical that medicines are taken as directed by the person for whom they were prescribed and that they are not shared. Sharing medications is dangerous and can result in illness mistreatment, consumption of incorrect dosages of medications, misuse of antibiotics, antibiotic resistance and unforeseen physical illness and side effects.
- Environmental damage
Unwanted medicines are often inappropriately disposed of by being dumped with other household waste, flushed down the toilet or poured down the sink. These methods of disposal can seriously harm the environment with products ending up in landfill, permeating the soil and entering our food chain and water supply.
Louise Creed, HSE Pharmacist explains why people should take this opportunity to safely dispose of unwanted medicines and said:
“We would strongly urge people to take this opportunity to get rid of out of date or unused medicines. Medication can pose a real hazard in the home, particularly to children or other vulnerable people. Clearing out your medicine cabinet is something that should be done on a regular basis. Check all the dates and remove anything that is out of date or no longer required. Medicines have an expiry date for the same reason food does and out of date medicines could do more harm than good.”
Martin Ryan, Resource Officer for Suicide Prevention in Cork, highlighted:
“It is extremely important that we review all medicines that we have at home on an on-going basis .The reduction of medication as means of self-harm and suicide are actions under the Connecting for Life strategy Cork and Kerry and we are delighted to support any programme that would reduce access to unused or unwanted medications in the home.”
David Lane, Drug and Alcohol Services Co-ordinator explained:
“The pharmacies involved have all embraced the campaign and are actively encouraging people to return unwanted or out of date medicines to them. I cannot emphasise strongly enough how important it is to ensure these medicines are disposed of properly and safely. Please take some time to check out what’s in your cabinets and avail of this free service over the coming weeks.”
Cork Kerry Community Healthcare has organised the ‘Dispose of Unused Medicines Properly’ (DUMP) campaign with pharmacists in Cork and Kerry. The campaign is supported by Cork City Council, Cork County Council, and Kerry County Council.
· To find more important information regarding safe storage of medications here
· For more information on previous DUMP campaigns please visit here