The Dubai Health Authority, held today a #smart_clinic via raise awareness about the Authority’s, ‘Clean Your Medicine Cabinet,’ campaign.
Information about the campaign was disseminated via DHA’s page on Twitter (DHA_Dubai), Instagram and periscope.
The campaign was launched in 2011 and since then every month medicines worth approximately half a million dirhams are donated to UAE charities.
As part of the campaign, DHA pharmacies located across 16 DHA primary healthcare centres and DHA hospitals( Dubai, Rashid, Latifa and Hatta) accept expired or unutilized medications that are dropped-off by the public.
Residents can return these medications to DHA pharmacies located across Dubai at no cost.
Expired medications are disposed of in line with international pharmaceutical safety guidelines. Unutilized medications are first reevaluated by experts within the pharmacy department and then the DHA donates valid medications that are in a good condition to charities.
Dr Mohammed Sameh, head of pharmacy at Rashid Hospital said: “Expired medication can pose serious health risks to individuals if not disposed of properly. Flushing down your medication is harmful for the environment and pollutes the water and disposing of the medicines in the garbage (even if it is tightly sealed) pollutes the soil. Therefore, the best way to dispose outdated medications is to return the medicines to the pharmacy for safe disposal.”
He added that the DHA coordinates with relevant authorities to dispose expired medication.
Dr Sameh warned about the dangerous effects of consuming expired medicines and said, “After expiry, the chemical structure of medicines change and it breaks down. This can reduce the effect of the medicine, or the medicine may become totally useless or worst case scenario is that it may become toxic. Bacteria and fungi can grow in expired medicines which can increase their toxicity. It is also important to note that liquids such as antibiotics break down faster.”
He added that eye drops should be disposed of one month after the date of opening because of the risk of bacterial or fungal growth.
Dr Nada Amiri, head of pharmacy at Latifa Hospital added that expired insulin injections have reduced potency which means if the patient uses such injections, it won’t bring down the blood sugar level to the desired extent and it may also have other harmful effects.
In terms of ensuring safety of medicines that are stored at home, Amiri said that medicines should be checked regularly so that 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 which parents should always keep in mind. Medicines should be stored below 25 degrees and medicines which need to be stored in the fridge should be stored between 2 to 8 degrees.”
Dr Nadia Mohamed Amour, Acting head of pharmacy department at Dubai Hospital added that bathrooms and kitchens are not ideal places to store medicines due to exposure to sunlight, heat and humidity and that the ideal place to store medicine is in a dark place and cool place.