New unwanted medicines audit


RUM disposal medicines

The RUM Project will be conducting a fresh audit to analyse the latest on medication disposal across Australia

A research team from Griffith University has been appointed by the Return and Disposal of Unwanted Medicines (RUM) Project to undertake an audit of unwanted medicines returned to participating pharmacies across the country.

They will also conduct a household survey to estimate the numbers of Australian households who are using the disposal service.

Results will be used to learn how awareness of the program could be improved and increased.

The project’s last audit was conducted in 2013 by Monash University. It concluded that the program was both a “critically important and highly viable” public health initiative.

The top five most commonly discarded medicines in 2013 were: insulin (in all its forms), salbutamol, paracetamol, frusemide and glyceryl trinitrate .

Toni Riley, manager of the RUM Project, says some differences are likely this time around as medication use has shifted over the past few years.

“I expect there’s going to be more devices such as delivery devices in the bins, as their use has increased,” says Riley.

“There will also be more administrative work since the last audit because use of the bins has increased so much,” she says.

Earlier this year, Riley commented on the alarming amount of Schedule 8 drugs dumped in RUM bins that were not rendered unusable and were easily identifiable, posing a “significant risk”.

The 2013 audit revealed about 2% of all returned medicines were Schedule 8.

But while State and Territory legislation requires that Schedule 8 medicines be rendered unusable and unidentifiable prior to inclusion in the bins, the report concluded that “clearly not all pharmacists are adhering to the requirements”.

This latest audit should reveal the current extent and state of Schedule 8 drug disposal across Australia, and whether any changes have been made.

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