What should you do with expired or unused medicines?
Expired or unused medicines do not belong in your home pharmacy. Using expired medicines can be dangerous for your own health: the properties of the medicine change over time, making it impossible to guarantee its effectiveness and safety. Disposing of medicines in the rubbish bin, the sink or the toilet can be dangerous for the environment.
The solution: return your expired or unused medicines to the pharmacy. The pharmacist takes care of their destruction.
How do you check the shelf life of your medicines?
- Regularly check the expiry date on the packaging: "EXP" or "verwendbar bis" followed by the two digits of the month and the four digits of the expiry year.
This also applies to preparations made by the pharmacist. After this date, you should return the medicine to the pharmacy.
- Some medicines (such as eye drops, nose drops and antibiotic syrups) have a limited shelf life after opening. This shelf life after opening is indicated on the leaflet or on the packaging. Write the date of opening on the packaging of these medicines (if the pharmacist has not already done so). This way you can calculate how long you may still use these medicines. Once the expiry date has passed, you must also return these medicines to the pharmacy.
Which medicines can be returned to the pharmacy?
- Unused pills, suppositories, capsules in their strip or bottle.
- Leftover syrups and liquid medicines in their original bottles.
- Leftover semi-liquid medicines in a tube.
- Residues from sprays and aerosols.
- Unused drug patches.
- Remove the packaging box and the leaflet yourself to facilitate the pharmacist's work.
- Non-medicinal products (needles, chemical residues, cosmetic residues, dietary and baby food, vitamin preparations, herbal products, radiographs) are not taken back by the pharmacist.
Do not dispose of antibiotic residues with the household waste
Infections with bacteria are treated with antibiotics, but the number of antibiotics available is limited. It is therefore very important to ensure that these medicines continue to work. If antibiotics are used too much, the bacteria may adapt, which means the antibiotics no longer work sufficiently well. When bacteria become insensitive (or resistant) to antibiotics, we speak of antibiotic resistance. Because the bacteria are no longer inhibited by the antibiotics, the infection can no longer be fought and you can therefore become very ill.
We must therefore ensure that we only use antibiotics when necessary. The doctor will only prescribe antibiotics when it is really necessary.
You can also ensure this yourself by not disposing of surplus antibiotics with household waste. Through the waste, they end up in surface water, where they come into contact with bacteria. This promotes resistance. Because surface water is used for watering our crops, for swimming and water sports, but also for the production of drinking water, people come into contact with resistant bacteria.
If we then contract an infection with such a resistant bacterium, the antibiotic may no longer be effective enough and we may become very ill.