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11 December 2023

How you may recycle expired or unwanted medication

By Majorie van Leijen

Last week, the Dubai Health Authority (DHA) announced the launch of its ‘Clean your medicine cabinet!’ campaign.

As part of the campaign, the authority reiterates that public can drop off expired or unutilised medication at all DHA pharmacies in the emirate of Dubai.

“We started this initiative last year and it is a continuous effort.

But we want to remind the public of the possibility,” said Dr. Ali Sayed, Director of the Pharmaceutical Services Department at DHA.

After the medication has been dropped off, expired medication will be disposed of in line with international pharmaceutical safety guidelines.

Unutilised medication will first be re-evaluated by experts within the pharmacy department, and the DHA will then donate valid medication, which is in a good condition, to charity organisations in the UAE.

HE Khalid Al Sheikh Mubarak, Deputy Director-General of the DHA, said:

“The campaign is being held to ensure people do not store expired medication in their homes as it is a safety hazard. Our aim is to ensure correct method of disposal, which is returning back expired or unutilised medication to pharmacies.”

“The improper disposal of medication can form a threat to the environment,” explains Dr. Ali. “Some medicines become toxic when they reached the expiry date. When people throw these medicines in the bin, or flush it in the sink, this is harmful to the environment.”

In terms of ensuring safety of medicines that are stored at home, he said that medicines should be checked regularly to ensure the medicine box does not have expired medication.

“Medicines should be stored in a cool and dry place; they should be in one container that is out of the reach and sight of children and pets.

These are basic precautions that parents should always keep in mind.

“When medicines are not used, because the doctor changed the prescription or told the patient to stop the medication, there is no reason for people to keep these medicines and they can be donated to charity organisations.”

Dr. Ali said that since DHA launched the campaign last year, people have become more aware of the possibility to drop off medication at DHA pharmacies. “We do not have the exact numbers, but people come to drop off medication on a daily basis.”

He added that the DHA coordinates with Dubai Municipality to dispose of the expired medication.


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How you may recycle expired or unwanted medication