DHA primary healthcare centres and hospitals accept unused, expired medicines

DHA primary healthcare centres and hospitals accept unused, expired medicines

Expired medicines are disposed of in line with international pharmaceutical safety guidelines.


Published: Fri 17 Apr 2015, 11:50 PM

Last updated: Thu 25 Jun 2015, 10:21 PM

Dubai — The Dubai Health Authority, held on Thursday a #smart_clinic via its Twitter page (DHA_Dubai) to raise awareness about the authority’s, ‘Clean Your Medicine Cabinet,’ campaign.

Information about the campaign was disseminated to 68,000 people who follow the DHA page on Twitter.

The campaign was launched in 2011 and since then every month medicines worth approximately half a million dirhams are donated to UAE charities.

As part of the campaign, DHA pharmacies located across 16 DHA primary healthcare centres and DHA hospitals (Dubai, Rashid, Latifa and Hatta) accept expired or unutilised medications dropped-off by the public. Residents can return these medicines to DHA pharmacies located across Dubai at no cost.

Expired medicines are disposed of in line with international pharmaceutical safety guidelines. Unutilised medicines are first reevaluated by experts within the pharmacy department and then the DHA donates valid medicines that are in a good condition to charities. Dr Ali Sayed, Director of Pharmaceutical Services at the Dubai Health Authority, said: “The aim of the campaign is two-fold — safe and effective disposal of deteriorated or expired medicines and donation of valid medicines to charities.

“Expired medicines can pose serious health risks to individuals if not disposed of properly. Flushing down your medicines is harmful for the environment and pollutes the water, and disposing of the medicines in the garbage (even if it is tightly sealed) pollutes the soil. Therefore, the best way to dispose outdated medicines is to return them to the pharmacy for safe disposal.”

He added that the DHA coordinates with relevant authorities to dispose expired medication.

Dr Sayed warned about the dangerous effects of consuming expired medicines: “Medicines have complex chemical structures. After expiry, the chemical structure changes and breaks down. This can reduce the effect of the medicine, or the medicine may become totally useless or worst case scenario is that it may become toxic. Bacteria and fungi can grow in expired medicines which can increase their toxicity. It is also important to note that liquids such as antibiotics break down faster.”

He added that eye drops should be disposed of one month after the date of opening because of the risk of bacterial or fungal growth.  Dr Sayed added that expired insulin injections have reduced potency which means if the patient uses such injections, it won’t bring down the blood sugar level to the desired extent and it may also have other harmful effects.

 In terms of ensuring safety of medicines that are stored at home, he said that medicines should be checked regularly so that the medicine box does not have expired medication. “Medicines should be stored in a cool and dry place; they should be in one container that is out of the reach and sight of children and pets. These are basic precautions which parents should always keep in mind.

He added that bathrooms and kitchens are not ideal places to store medicines due to exposure to sunlight, heat and humidity. The ideal place to store medicine is in a dark place and cool place.

The #smart clinic was also attended by Dr Mohammed Sameh, head of pharmacy at Rashid Hospital, Dr Nada Amiri, head of pharmacy at Latifa Hospital and Dr Muna Sayed, specialist pharmacist at the pharmacy department at the DHA.

Safety tips:

> Keep an updated list of all medicines at home.

> Ensure that medicines are out of reach of children and pets. This is especially true for medicines that look like water or soft drinks.

> Never tell your children medicines taste like candy or sweets. Let them know from a young age that medicines are only consumed to recover from an illness.

> Always store medicines and vitamins in a locked location.

> For convenience set a daily alarm for yourself so that you take your medicines regularly.

> Remind nannies and houseguests to keep purses and bags that contain medicines at a height.

> It is advisable to take your medicines at the same time daily.

> When medicines are misused and taken without medical advice they can be dangerous.

> Read proper storage instructions for all medicines.

> Medicines that need to be reconstituted, or after opening some medications, should be stored at 2 to 8 degrees.

> In general, medicines should be stored at room temperature, below 25 degrees.

> Medicines should be stored away from sunlight and humidity.

> In summer months, ensure medications are stored in an air-conditioned room.

> Some medicines need to be kept in the refrigerator.

> Store them in a box or container that sets them apart from your food section.

> Avoid the kitchen and bathroom to store medicines.

> Store all medicines in one designated location together. 

> Do not share medicines prescribed to you with others.

> Keep medicines in the original container.

> Never leave your medicines in the car; the heat destroys the effectiveness of the medicines.

> Antibiotics should be taken as prescribed, never miss your dose.

> It is important to tell your doctor if you are pregnant or breastfeeding.

> Liver failure and/or kidney failure disease patients should tell their GP’s about their condition, as medications will be prescribed accordingly.

> Paediatric medicines are based on age and weight and therefore dosage should be prescribed by the physician.

> Do not over use pain killers.


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