A review on status of drug disposal practice of unused and expired drugs among different countries

Aakriti Aryal Paulvarnan Anitha Anuba Gopalan Ramalingam Arun Sundararajan Sarumathy Ramachandran Nanda kumar   

Open Access   

Published:  Dec 24, 2022

DOI: 10.7324/JAPS.2023.32158

Medicines are crucial in treating various diseases, but when they are not needed, it is essential to dispose of them correctly. This review aims to study the status of the disposal of unused and expired drugs in different countries. The study objectives included reviewing procedures adopted by the general public for disposing of pharmaceuticals and public awareness about the problem of incorrect disposal methods. The literature search was done from PubMed and Elsevier databases, by entering the keywords “unused medications,” “expired drugs,” and “drug disposal.” Articles were excluded if they did not focus specifically on drug disposal practices. In many nations, disposing of unwanted drugs has become a burden since pharmaceutical waste permeates the ecosystem, posing a severe risk to human and environmental health. As a need of the hour, public education on proper medication disposal is required. Furthermore, the government should promote the reverse distribution practice. Residents are urged to return undesired prescriptions to pharmacies, which are collected and destroyed by approved agents or bodies.

Keyword:     Unused drug expired drugs drug disposal pharmaceuticals


Aryal A, Anuba PA, Arun GR, Sarumathy S, Kumar RN. A review on status of drug disposal practice of unused and expired drugs among different countries. J Appl Pharm Sci, 2023; 13(04):045–052. https://doi.org/10.7324/JAPS.2023.32158

Copyright: © The Author(s). This is an open-access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

HTML Full Text


Seehusen DA, Edwards J. Patient practices and beliefs concerning disposal of medications. J Am Board Fam Med, 2006; 19(6):542-7. https://doi.org/10.3122/jabfm.19.6.542

Ruhoy IS, Daughton CG. Beyond the medicine cabinet: an analysis of where and why medications accumulate. Environ Int, 2008; 34(8):1157-69. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.envint.2008.05.002

Ekedahl AB. Reasons why medicines are returned to Swedish pharmacies unused. Pharm World Sci, 2006; 28(6):352-8. https://doi.org/10.1007/s11096-006-9055-1

Medhi B, Sewal RK. Ecopharmacovigilance: An issue urgently to be addressed. Indian J Pharmacol, 2012; 44(5):547-549. https://doi.org/10.4103/0253-7613.100363

Bound JP, Voulvoulis N. Household disposal of pharmaceuticals as a pathway for aquatic contamination in the United Kingdom. Environ Health Perspect, 2005;113 (12):1705-1711. https://doi.org/10.1289/ehp.8315

Daughton CG, Ternes TA. Pharmaceuticals and personal care products in the environment: agents of subtle change? Environ Health Perspect, 1999; 107(6):907-938. https://doi.org/10.1289/ehp.99107s6907

Zuccato E, Castiglioni S, Fanelli R, Bagnati R, Reitano G, Calamari D. Risks related to the discharge of pharmaceuticals in the environment: further research is needed. Pharmaceuticals in the Environment. Springer, 2004; p. 431-437. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-662-09259-0_31

Vollmer G. Disposal of pharmaceutical waste in households-a European survey. Green and Sustainable pharmacy. Springer, 2010; p. 165-178. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-642-05199-9_11

Boehringer S. What's the best way to dispose of medications. Pharm Lett. 2004; 20(4).

Oaks JL, Gilbert M, Virani MZ, Watson RT, Meteyer CU, Rideout BA, Shivaprasad H, Ahmed S, Chaudhry MJI, Arshad M. Diclofenac residues as the cause of vulture population decline in Pakistan. Nature, 2004; 427(6975):630-633 https://doi.org/10.1038/nature02317

Makki M, Hassali MA, Awaisu A, Hashmi F. The Prevalence of Unused Medications in Homes. Journal of Pharmacy Education and Practice, 2019; 7(2):61. https://doi.org/10.3390/pharmacy7020061

Davidová J, Ivanovic N, Práznovcová L. Participation in pharmaceutical costs and seniors' access to medicines in the Czech Republic. Cent Eur J Public Health, 2008; 16(1):26-28. https://doi.org/10.21101/cejph.a3439

Sasu S, Kümmerer K, Kranert M. Assessment of pharmaceutical waste management at selected hospitals and homes in Ghana. Waste Manag Res, 2012; 30(6): 625-630. https://doi.org/10.1177/0734242X11423286

Auta A, Banwat SB, Sariem CN, Shalkur D, Nasara B, Atuluku MO. Medicines in Pharmacy Students' Residence and Self-medication Practices. J Young Pharm, 2012; 4(2): 119-123. https://doi.org/10.4103/0975-1483.96627

Atinafu T, Takele A, Kassie A, Yehualaw A, Tesfaw G., Tesfanesh, Desseno, Mekonnen T, Fentie M. Unused medications disposal practice: The case of Patients visiting university of Gondar specialized teaching Hospital, Gondar, Ethiopia. Int J Pharm Sci Res, 2014; 5(12): 999-1005.

Wondimu A, Molla F, Demeke B, Eticha T, Assen A, Abrha S, Melkam W. Household storage of medicines and associated factors in Tigray Region, Northern Ethiopia. PloS one, 2015; 10(8): e0135650. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0135650

Bashaar M, Thawani V, Hassali MA, Saleem F. Disposal practices of unused and expired pharmaceuticals among general public in Kabul. BMC Public Health 17, 45 (2017). https://doi.org/10.1186/s12889-016-3975-z https://doi.org/10.1186/s12889-016-3975-z

Ali SE, Ibrahim MIM, Palaian S. Medication storage and self-medication behaviour amongst female students in Malaysia. Pharm Pract, 2010; 8(4): 226-232. https://doi.org/10.4321/S1886-36552010000400004

Arkaravichien W, Ruchipiyarak T, Thawinwan W, Benjawilaikul S. A Threat to the Environment from Practice of Drug Disposal in Thailand. Environment Asia, 2014; 7(1):13-18

Sharma A, Ankush Madaan, Anantha Naik Nagappa. Medication storage and self medication practice among the youth in Karnataka Region, India. International Journal of Pharmaceutical Sciences and Research, 2012; 3(8): 2795-2800.

Pankajkumar P, Chacko S, Res BP-JP. Storage and Disposal of Medicines In Home Among Students. Journal of Pharmacy Research, 2016; 10(6): 343-350.

Labu, Z. K. and Harun-or-rashid M. "Evaluation of safe disposal practice of unused medications among the students of world university of Bangladesh (WUB)."South Asian J.Popul Health,2016; 45-55

Bungau S, Tit DM, Fodor K, Cioca G, Agop M, Iovan C, Cseppento DCN, Bumbu A, Bustea C. Aspects Regarding the Pharmaceutical Waste Management in Romania. Sustainability, 2018; 10(8): 2788. https://doi.org/10.3390/su10082788

Vatovec C, van Wagoner E, Evans C. Investigating sources of pharmaceutical pollution: Survey of over-the-counter and prescription medication purchasing, use, and disposal practices among university students. J Environ Manage, 2017; 198: 348-352. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jenvman.2017.04.101

Vellinga A, Cormican S, Driscoll J, Furey M, O'Sullivan M, Cormican M. Public practice regarding disposal of unused medicines in Ireland. Sci Total Environ, 2014; 478: 98-102. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.scitotenv.2014.01.085

Kozak MA, Melton JR, Gernant SA, Snyder ME."A needs assessment of unused and expired medication disposal practices: A study from the Medication Safety Research Network of Indiana." Res Social Adm Pharm, 2016; 12(2): 336-340. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.sapharm.2015.05.013

Coma A, Modamio P, Lastra CF, Bouvy ML, Mariño EL."Returned medicines in community pharmacies of Barcelona, Spain. Pharm World Sci, 2008; 30(3): 272-277. https://doi.org/10.1007/s11096-007-9177-0

Abahussain EA, Ball DE, Matowe WC. Practice and opinion towards disposal of unused medication in Kuwait. Med Princ Pract, 2006; 15(5): 352-357. https://doi.org/10.1159/000094268

Al-Shareef F, El-Asrar SA, Al-Bakr L, Al-Amro M, Alqahtani F, Aleanizy F, Al-Rashood S. Investigating the disposal of expired and unused medication in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia: a cross-sectional study. Int J Clin Pharm, 2016; 38(4): 822-828. https://doi.org/10.1007/s11096-016-0287-4

Barlas S. Pharmacy Take-Back Programs: Opportunities for Congress, Liabilities for Pharmacies. Pharmacy and Therapeutics, 2009; 34(8):404.

Drug Disposal: Drug Take Back Locations | FDA. Available at: https://www.fda.gov/drugs/disposal-unused-medicines-what-you-should-know/drug-disposal-drug-take-back-locations [Accessed August 11, 2022].

Gracia-Vásquez SL, Ramírez-Lara E, Camacho-Mora IA, Cantú-Cárdenas LG, Gracia-Vásquez YA, Esquivel-Ferriño PC, Ramírez-Cabrera MA, Gonzalez-Barranco P. An analysis of unused and expired medications in Mexican households. Int J Clin Pharm, 2014; 37(1):121-126. https://doi.org/10.1007/s11096-014-0048-1

Where and How to Dispose of Unused Medicines | FDA. Available at: https://www.fda.gov/consumers/consumer-updates/where-and-how-dispose-unused-medicines[Accessed August 11, 2022].

Drug Disposal: Drug Take Back Locations | FDA. Available at: https://www.fda.gov/drugs/disposal-unused-medicines-what-you-should-know/drug-disposal-drug-take-back-locations. [Accessed August 11, 2022].

Article Metrics

1 Absract views 5 PDF Downloads 6 Total views

   Abstract      Pdf Download

Related Search

By author names

Citiaion Alert By Google Scholar

Name Required
Email Required Invalid Email Address

Comment required