Read, Remove, Return: Return unwanted medication for a happy healthy home.

We all want to keep our whānau home safe and healthy, right? Well, Pegasus Health and the Canterbury Community Pharmacy Group (CCPG) have teamed up to launch Read, Remove, Return unwanted medications campaign. It’s all about keeping your home safe and looking out for one another and safely return any unused or unwanted medicines to your local pharmacy—completely free of charge!

Keeping excess medication at home can pose risks, especially for children and elderly patients who may have multiple medications or frequent changes in their prescriptions. By removing these unused medicines from your home, you can reduce the risk of any harm.

“Unused and unwanted medicines are not safe to recycle, reuse or donate, so if you have any unwanted medicines just bring them into your community pharmacy and they will dispose of them safely. This includes out of date medication and medicine for pets, which will also be accepted by pharmacies for safe disposal” CCPG general manager Aarti Patel said.

Where you keep medicines in your home matters too. To make your space safer for your friends, flat mates, and whānau, we suggest storing medicines in dry and secure locations—avoiding potentially damp areas like bathroom cupboards.

Why shouldn’t I put medicines in the household rubbish bin?

There is a landfill in Canterbury especially for medical waste. It is designed to protect ingredients from medicines getting into the environment.

What medicines can I return to pharmacies?

All medicines, including ones for pets, pills, creams, and inhalers. Unused or out of date medication. Keep sharp items such as needles, syringes, or finger prickers separate from your other unwanted medicines. The pharmacy can give you a sealed container to put them.

Will I be charged?

No. The service is free.

Which pharmacies are providing medicines disposal in my area, and when are they open?

Every pharmacy provides a medicine disposal service. Check for the pharmacy closest to you and their opening hours.

Why don’t we share or recycle unwanted medicines?

Medicines cannot safely be recycled, reused by anyone aside from who they were prescribed for, or donated. This is because medicine can deteriorate depending on a number of factors, such as how it is stored.

What happens if old or out of date medicines are used?

They might not work or make you sick. This also applies to medicines that are not prescribed for you.

Can I return medicines that belong to other people?

Yes. If the medicine is something that person should be taking regularly, let the pharmacist or your doctor know. If the person is deceased, return all their medicines for safe disposal.

Will I get into trouble for returning medicines unused?

No. You won’t be judged for returning medicines for yourself or your whānau. If you prefer, you can return them anonymously in a sealed bag with your name on labels removed or crossed out.

Will the pharmacist check the returned medication?

Yes. The pharmacist needs to check the types of medicines you are returning, as legally some medicines need to be recorded in a register and destroyed in a special disposal method.

Should I tell my doctor about returning medicines?

It’s good to let your doctor know if you have decided not to take a medicine for whatever reason. Next time you visit your doctor let them know so they can look after you the best way possible.

How should I store medicines at home?

Store all medicines in a cool, dry, secure place. Medicines are often kept in areas such as kitchen or bathroom cupboards for ease of access, but these areas have moisture that could damage medications.