Don’t keep strong pain medicines ‘just in case’


prescription drugs opioid deaths inquest addictive drugs dependence

TGA rolls out campaign to curb opioid harm

Community pharmacies across Australia will receive 500 repeat script covers encouraging safe disposal of unwanted medicines, as the TGA rolls out its ‘Return Your Opioids’ campaign.

In Australia, nearly 150 Australians are hospitalised every day due to opioid harm, says the TGA.

“This number is too high, so we’re encouraging all Australians to return their unused opioids to their local pharmacy.

“Strong pain medicines such as opioids shouldn’t be kept around ‘just in case’.

“Opioids are addictive and can have serious interactions with other medicines. They can also be accidentally consumed by children or pets, and are known to be targets for theft and misuse.

“These are just some of the reasons you shouldn’t keep your unused opioids ‘just in case’.”

Between 2007–08 and 2016–17, there was a 25% rise in the rate of hospitalisations due to opioid poisoning, according to the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare.

Pharmaceutical opioids were more likely than heroin to be involved in opioid deaths and opioid hospitalisations.

In 2016, the vast majority of opioid deaths were accidental (83%).

The TGA is also reminding the community that storage of any expired and unwanted medicines in the home can be dangerous, and unsafe disposal of unwanted medicines can lead to environmental harm.

“Your local community pharmacy provides a free and convenient way to dispose of your unwanted medicines responsibly,” it says.

“Prescription medicines, over-the-counter medicines, herbal or complementary supplements, gels, liquids, creams and pet medicines can all be returned to your community pharmacy for free, safe disposal.”

Over the past year (July 2018 to June 2019), pharmacists have collected 613,166 kg of unwanted medicines, according to the Return Unwanted Medicines Project.

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