Medicines—and that includes pain relief medication—are specially formulated to treat your body. When managing your own health, including pain, always start with a conversation with your doctor or pharmacist.
Then, after the medicines have served their purpose and helped you feel better, it’s time to wave goodbye to any finished, old, expired and unusable medicine. One last job remains: right disposal of medicine.
It’s important to treat medicines carefully when you dispose of them. As with any product disposal, we should be thinking about the environmental impact. From recycling the packaging where this is possible to making sure old medicines end up in the right place, there are some rules to follow when it comes to disposal.
You might be tempted to give unused medicines away, but please don’t. According to the World Health Organization, donated medicine in tablets and capsules can only be used if they are unexpired, the container is properly labelled, still sealed and within the original unbroken blister packs1. You can ask for guidance from your pharmacy professionals when you turn in your medicines.
To help protect the environment, don’t throw away medicines into our water system; don’t dispose of them in the toilet or sink. It’s best to bring no longer needed and expired medications to your local pharmacy. If you are unsure of the rules in your area or of the right way to dispose of your medicines, ask your pharmacist for advice.
If you have applied a pain gel by hand to another part of your body, once done, please wipe your hands with an absorbent paper cloth and dispose of cloth in the bin before washing your hands.
Rules vary by country on how to dispose of sharps and needles, that’s why it’s a good idea to check on your local rules.
Some drug makers are redesigning their products and packaging to be friendlier to the environment. At GSK that includes efforts to source materials sustainably and make packaging that has less impact on the environment.
Cardboard packaging, often made from recycled material, can be recycled again. Paper inserts can be recycled as well. If there’s medical residue on the packaging, please take it to the pharmacist and ask for advice on the best way to dispose. Follow the guidance of your local government on recycling practices for items such as blister packs and plastic containers.
It’s good to know medicines are there to help relieve our pain but when the time comes to say goodbye, please dispose of unneeded medicines properly.