All clinics should have a written policy for the safe disposal of surplus, unwanted or expired medicines. 

Disposal of waste is subject to legislation and regulated by the Environment Agency. You might need to dispose of medicines when: 

➢ a person’s treatment changes or stops Safely dispose of remaining supplies (with the person’s consent where possible). 

➢ the medicine reaches its expiry date Make sure you read about expiry dates in the product information leaflet. Some medicines expire before their ‘use by’ dates because you’ve opened the packaging. Other expiry dates are shortened if they’re removed from controlled temperature storage.

Risk 

Clinics must dispose of unwanted medicines appropriately, to avoid placing people who use services at risk. 

Examples 

A person who is no longer a client was previously prescribed medication. You must not administer medicine to a person if it was prescribed to another person. 

A prescriber has stopped prescribing a medicine. If you continue to administer the medicine, you could place people at risk. 

If you administer medicine beyond the expiry date, the product could have chemically changed. This may make it clinically ineffective or could cause actual harm. 

Process 

You should record the process for disposing of medicines in your medicines policy. Store medicines for disposal securely and separately to in use medicines. Control access, until they are collected or taken to the pharmacy. Do not dispose of medicines on site through the sewage system. 

NICE SC1 says “Medicines for disposal should be stored securely in a tamper-proof container within a cupboard until they are collected or taken to the pharmacy.” 

You should dispose of medicines by returning them to the supplier. This would usually be the community dispensing pharmacy. The supplier should dispose of the medicines in line with current waste regulations. 

Keeping records 

You must keep records to ensure that medicines are handled properly during disposal. Records could include: 

● date of disposal or return to pharmacy. 

● name and strength of medicine. 

● quantity removed. 

● person for whom medicines were prescribed or purchased. 

● signature of the member of staff who arranges disposal of the medicines. 

● signature of the person collecting the medicines for disposal.