When is a medicine unwanted, how is it disposed and how might safe disposal be promoted? Insights from the Australian population
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Objective. The aim of the present study was to explore disposal practices of unwanted medicines in a representative sample of Australian adults, compare this with previous household waste surveys and explore awareness of the National Return and Disposal of Unwanted Medicines (RUM) Project. Methods. A 10-min online survey was developed, piloted and conducted with an existing research panel of adult individuals. Survey questions recorded demographics, the presence of unwanted medicines in the home, medicine disposal practices and concerns about unwanted medicines. Descriptive statistical analyses and rank-ordered logit regression were conducted. Results. Sixty per cent of 4302 respondents reported having unwanted medicines in their household. Medicines were primarily kept just in case they were needed again and one-third of these medicines were expired. Two-thirds of respondents disposed of medicines with the household garbage and approximately one-quarter poured medicines down the drain. Only 17.6% of respondents had heard of the RUM Project, although, once informed, 91.7% stated that they would use it. Respondents ranked the risk of unintended ingestion as the most important public health message for future social marketing campaigns. Conclusions. Respondents were largely unaware of the RUM Project, yet were willing to use it once informed. Limited awareness could lead to environmental or public health risks, and targeted information campaigns are needed.
Australian Health Review
This publication has been entered into Griffith Research Online as an Advanced Online Version.