News and Notices

Return Unused and Expired Medicines to Keep Community Safe

Te Whatu Ora Nelson Marlborough is encouraging residents to help make communities safer by depositing unused and expired medicines at a pharmacy for safe disposal.

The Read, Remove, Return campaign acknowledges that medicines – pills, patches, liquids and lotions – become unused, and can accumulate to unsafe quantities for many reasons, and asks people to take them to any pharmacy.

Jane Kinsey, Senior Localities Manager for Te Whatu Ora Nelson Marlborough Te Tauihu said:

“Over time, medicines can collect in cupboards and drawers in your home, car or workplace.

“They might be expired, surplus to your needs, or prescribed for someone who isn’t around anymore.

“Unused and expired medication might seem harmless; however it can be a serious risk if something is accidentally swallowed, misused or disposed of in the rubbish which can be harmful to the environment.”

As many people start to get organised for the new school year, and return to work, now is the perfect time to have a New Year clean and clear out cabinets.

Caroline Allen, Community Pharmacy Facilitator for Te Whatu Ora Nelson Marlborough said:

“We are asking people to help their communities and whanau by removing surplus medicines from homes. This helps prevent accidental or intentional ingestion of potentially dangerous medicines.

“Taking action also helps to protect our environment. People may not realise that the ingredients of medicines can be harmful to waterways and land if flushed down toilets, sinks or put in the bin.”

There are three steps to take – read, remove, return.

Read the labels on unused medicines, checking the expiry date, before removing and storing them securely out of reach. Finally, return to a pharmacy where pharmacists will happily accept deposits, in a non-judgmental manner.

The three Rs are for everyone, and for any medicine: whether a prescription, a home remedy like Paracetamol, a supplement, or for a pet. Pharmacists will accept medicines in any condition, and people are welcome to remove labels with identifying information too.

The important thing is to give medicines to any pharmacy for safe disposal.

Many people know the first two ‘Rs’ – it’s not uncommon to hear about people having a bag of medications in their car, meaning to drop it off to a pharmacy, after a spring clean or helping a relative move house.

If you live in Nelson or are visiting, you can also drop unused medicines into the safe deposit box on the ground floor of Nelson Hospital, by the elevators.

Unused medicines returned to pharmacies are disposed by specialist waste disposal companies according to the New Zealand Standard for the Management of Healthcare Waste.

For more information:

To find the closest pharmacy: