Background: Stocking unused or expired medicines or donating these to others can lead to accidental or inappropriate ingestion, increasing the risk of adverse drug reaction(s) and even lead to antibiotic resistance. Further improper disposal of expired or unused medicines is associated with environmental pollution, health hazards and damage to ecosystem. Ecopharmacovigilance is an important area in this context.
Objective: To explore the awareness and disposal practices of unused/expired in the general public.
Materials and Methods: The current study is an observational, cross-sectional, questionnaire-based study conducted in 956 medicine consumers in New Delhi and National Capital Region, India. The knowledge, attitude, and practice of consumers regarding the disposal of unused medicines were evaluated.
Results: The majority (89.9%) of consumers opined that expiry of medicine(s) meant for completion of shelf life, production of toxic chemical and loss of or decreasing of beneficial effects of medicines. Majority (87%) of the consumers stored medicines at home. Almost all (92.6%) of the consumers threw away the expired medicines after storing for few days. Consumers discarded the expired medicines mainly in household trash (73%). The majority (93%) of consumers were in favour of a government program to collect unused or expired medicines from their home.
Conclusion: The knowledge and practices of consumers towards disposal of unused and expired medicines needs to be improved. Health care professionals, government and policy makers should offer training to educate and guide the general public on safe and proper disposal practices of expired or unused medicines.