Pharmacies brown-bag it

brown paper bag full of pills in blister packs

Only a fifth of medicines are disposed of correctly via pharmacy… but a new campaign aims to change that

During the month of November all 35 pharmacies in the Mackellar electorate, in Northern Sydney, will participate in the Brown Bag Medicine Promotion.

This program is expected to help enable pharmacies to collect unwanted medicines from their patients to destroy in an environmentally safe way.

The promotion, which is facilitated by local member Jason Falinski MP and local pharmacist Warwick Plunkett AM, will be used to raise awareness of the National Return Unwanted Medicines (RUM) program that was established in 1997.

Mr Plunkett noted that currently, the RUM program, available through all of the 5700 pharmacies throughout Australia, brings in 800 tonnes of returned medicines which are destroyed each year.

“This still only accounts for about 20% of disposed medicines with the remainder ending up in land fill and our waterways,” he said.

“Much still remains to be done in educating the public on the safe and convenient way to dispose of medicines through their community pharmacy.

“I encourage everyone in the electorate to review their medicine cupboard and return back to the pharmacy all unwanted medicines for safe disposal along with any current medicines needing more information and advice from the pharmacist.

“Pharmacists are medicines experts and are always available to provide advice on their actions, side effects and optimal use.”

Brown Bag Day was first established in the USA some 40 years ago to raise the consumer awareness of the need to remove unwanted and out dated medicines from their medicine cupboard to prevent accidental misadventure, and return them for safe disposal back to their local pharmacy in the ubiquitous brown bag.

During November all pharmacies in the Mackellar region will distribute brown bags, encouraging the community to return any unwanted medicines, such as medicines that have expired or medicines that patients no longer require.

If successful this form of promotion will be duplicated in many other electorates around NSW and Australia, the promoters say.

The Brown Bag promotion is being supported by the National Return Unwanted Medicines Program and the Pharmaceutical Society of Australia following a Commonwealth Government environmental grant.

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