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Advice on safe return of medicines to pharmacies

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Members of the public who wish to return unwanted or out-of-date medicines to their local pharmacy are being reminded about safety measures in place during the coronavirus pandemic. 

Community pharmacies are continuing to accept waste medicines for disposal to avoid the risk of accidents, misuse or overdose by patients or members of their household. It remains an important service during the current very busy time for pharmacies, but must be conducted safely. 

Anyone planning to return medicines from a household where there has been a suspected or confirmed case of coronavirus should store the items securely in a safe area at home in sealed bags, for seven days. 

This precaution is in place as it is known the virus can lie on surfaces for a number of days; after a week the items can be returned to a pharmacy in sealed bags. Regular collections are being made from pharmacies but as some have limited storage areas, it is asked that the pharmacy is contacted first before returning large quantities of medicines of any type.  

All sharps and controlled drugs must be separated from other medicines before being handed in, or the pharmacy will not be able to accept them, and sharps can only be accepted in an appropriate container. 

Medicines should never be placed in the normal household waste or in the drain system. 

DHSC Minister David Ashford said:

‘Pharmacy staff have been working exceptionally hard through this difficult period and have adapted to cope in many ways, including working different shifts and undertaking deliveries out of hours to ensure all patients receive the medicines they need – they are a vital service to this community so please do what you can to keep them safe.’