The after-life of drugs: a responsible care initiative for reducing their environmental impact

Phillip J Bergen and Simon E Appel
Med J Aust 2014; 200 (2): . || doi: 10.5694/mja13.11267
Published online: 3 February 2014

To the Editor: It is common for unwanted and expired medicines to be disposed of through general waste or, as raised recently by Fisher and colleagues, into the sewage system.1 These practices adversely affect not only the environment, but also social and economic determinants of health. For example, medicines discarded in household bins may be accessible to unintended recipients including children, increasing the risk of poisonings, misuse and abuse. It is critical that unwanted and/or expired medicines are disposed of safely.

  • 1 Centre for Medicine Use and Safety, Monash University, Melbourne, VIC.
  • 2 Return Unwanted Medicines Project, Melbourne, VIC.


Competing interests:

Phillip Bergen has undertaken an audit of medicines discarded through the Return Unwanted Medicines program with the financial assistance of the Australian Government Department of Health, from the Quality Use of Diagnostics, Therapeutics and Pathology Fund.

  • 1. Fisher PMJ, Smith DA, Collignon PJ. The after-life of drugs: a responsible care initiative for reducing their environmental impact. Med J Aust 2013; 199: 388-390. <MJA full text>
  • 2. Return Unwanted Medicines (The RUM Project). (accessed Sep 2013).


remove_circle_outline Delete Author
add_circle_outline Add Author

Do you have any competing interests to declare? *

I/we agree to assign copyright to the Medical Journal of Australia and agree to the Conditions of publication *
I/we agree to the Terms of use of the Medical Journal of Australia *
Email me when people comment on this article

Online responses are no longer available. Please refer to our instructions for authors page for more information.