This Wednesday NPS MedicineWise wants everyone to clean out their medicine cabinets and rid their homes, cars and offices of unwanted, unnecessary and potentially harmful out-of-date medicines.
‘Clean Out Your Medicine Cabinet Day’ marks the halfway point in a national medicinewise challenge that has been set as part of Be Medicinewise Week 2013.
This year the national initiative is focused on the health of Australia’s ageing population but on Wednesday, Be Medicinewise Week ambassador Dr John D’Arcy and NPS MedicineWise are urging everyone to get involved.
“It’s pretty clear that Australians need to become more medicinewise. Around 1.5 million people experience a medicines-related problem each year and hospitals see 190,000 admissions per year as a result,” says Dr D’Arcy.
“Medicines use in Australia is just about universal. Chances are we’ve all got a few medicines lying around the house, stuffed in a draw at work, hiding in the glove box or stashed in our bags. But when was the last time you checked whether those medicines were still safe to use?
“Medicines can change significantly over time – chemically or in their physical form. Beyond their expiry dates, they may become less effective, and in some cases might even become toxic. Holding onto your old pills and potions can be dangerous if you end up taking them.”
But it’s not just out-of-date medicines we need to worry about. Dr D’Arcy warns you should also dispose of medicines you no longer need.
“Medicines you no longer need may no longer be right for you, so saving some for next time or giving them to someone else is a big risk that’s not worth taking.”
According to Dr D’Arcy, the key to spring cleaning your medicines cabinet is knowing what to look for. Medicines come in many forms, including tablets, liquids, inhalers, drops, patches, creams, suppositories and injections.
“A lot of people don’t realise that complementary medicines such as herbal remedies, vitamins, minerals, and nutritional supplements are medicines too,” says Dr D’Arcy.