If you’re one of the many Australians with a collection of outdated or unwanted medicines around the house and not sure how to dispose of them safely, you’ll want to know about the RUM Project.
RUM (Return Unwanted Medicines) is a free national initiative funded by the federal Department of Health, set up to provide a safe and convenient way for consumers to safely dispose of their unwanted household medicines through community pharmacies.
Results of a survey recently published in the Australian Health Review show that 60% of the 4,302 respondents have unwanted medicines in their home. Many of these medications were expired, or were being kept “just in case”. Those who did dispose of their unwanted medicines reported that they either tipped them down the drain or threw them out with the weekly garbage, which can pose risks for others and be harmful for the environment.
Despite these practices, survey respondents ranked the risk of accidental ingestion of these medications as a critical public health message for social media marketing.
So, how does RUM work?
All PBS approved community pharmacies across the country participate in the RUM project, and will have a RUM bin in their outlet.
Consumers can simply take any prescription or over-the-counter medicines, complementary or herbal supplements, gels, liquids and creams, and even pet medicines to any community pharmacy for disposal in their RUM bin. When the bin is full, it is incinerated by an Environment Protection Authority accredited facility.
“Sharps” (needles and syringes) are not accepted in RUM bins. Empty inhalers, blister packs and medication packaging can be safely put into the normal household rubbish.
As RUM bins are stored in a secure area of the pharmacy, consumer privacy is ensured.
RUM is a free service for consumers, and is funded by the Government until 30 June 2018.
What to do
If you have any medications at home that you think are out of date or you no longer need, follow RUM’s “3 easy steps”:
- READ – read the labels on any medications you have at home, check the expiry dates, and consider if you still need them.
- REMOVE – collect all unwanted medicines in your home and pop them into a container.
- RETURN – take your unwanted medications to your local community pharmacy to be placed into their RUM bin.
Want to know more?
To find out more about RUM, talk to your local community pharmacy or visit the RUM website www.returnmed.com.au.
Do’s and Don’ts for storing medications
DO store medicines at home in a dry, cool space away from light, and out of reach of children and pets.
DO check the expiry dates on any medications in your home (dates are usually printed on the packaging, or sometimes underneath labels, on bottle lids or at the end of tubes).
DO check with your pharmacist if you’re unsure about an expiry date.
DON’T keep medications where children or pets could easily reach them, to avoid the risk of accidental ingestion.
DON’T take medications that have passed their use by date.