Dispose of Unused Medicines Properly (DUMP) campaign – Cork Safety Alerts


Unused or expired medications can be a serious hazard in the home. Over the next few weeks, Cork Kerry Community Healthcare, in conjunction with Cork City Council, Cork County Council and Kerry County Council, is asking the public to use a free service dispose of their medication safely.

The Dispose of Unused Medicines Properly (DUMP) campaign runs from Monday March 14and until Friday 22 Apriln/a with the participation of almost all pharmacies in Cork and Kerry. This campaign allows the public to bring unused or expired medicines to participating pharmacies to ensure they are disposed of correctly. The DUMP campaign has been running successfully in Cork and Kerry since 2007. In 2018, over 280 bins, containing over four tonnes of medicine, were safely disposed of as part of this important campaign.

Unused or expired medications can accumulate in the house for various reasons. Long-term storage of these drugs is unsafe and can lead to accidental poisonings, intentional overdose, inappropriate drug sharing, and environmental damage.

In 2020, the National Poison Information Center at Beaumont Hospital received 11,687 poisoning requests. More than two thirds of them concerned children and adolescents (67%) and most poisonings took place at home (93%).

In 2019, the National Suicide Research Foundation (NSRF) recorded 7,763 hospital presentations due to intentional overdose of prescription or over-the-counter medications. Paracetamol was the drug most often taken for overdose, followed by a range of prescription drugs. Between 2008 and 2017, the National Drug-Related Deaths Index (NDRDI) recorded 3,715 poisoning deaths. Opioids or painkillers were most often implicated in these deaths.

  • Inappropriate sharing of medications

It is essential that medications are taken according to the instructions of the person for whom they were prescribed and that they are not shared. Sharing drugs is dangerous and can lead to mistreatment of disease, consumption of incorrect dosages of drugs, misuse of antibiotics, antibiotic resistance, and unforeseen physical illnesses and side effects.

Unwanted medications are often disposed of improperly by being thrown out with other household waste, flushed down the toilet, or poured down the sink. These disposal methods can seriously harm the environment, with products ending up in landfills, soaking up soil, and entering our food chain and water supply.

Louise Credothe HSE pharmacist explains why people should take this opportunity to safely dispose of unwanted medicines and said:

We urge people to take this opportunity to get rid of expired or unused medicines. Medicines can be a real danger in the home, especially for children or other vulnerable people. Emptying your medicine cabinet is something that needs to be done regularly. Check all dates and delete anything that is outdated or no longer needed. Medicines have an expiration date for the same reason that expired foods and medicines could do more harm than good.

Martin RyanResource Manager for Suicide Prevention in Cork, pointed out:

It is extremely important that we constantly review all the medications we have at home. any program that would reduce access to unused or unwanted medications in the home.

David Lanesubstance abuse services coordinator explained:

The pharmacies involved have all signed on to the campaign and are actively encouraging people to return unwanted or expired medicines. I cannot stress enough the importance of ensuring that these medications are disposed of properly and safely. Please take the time to check out what’s in your cabinets and take advantage of this free service over the next few weeks.

Cork Kerry Community Healthcare organized the Disposal of Unused Medicines Properly (DUMP) campaign with Cork and Kerry pharmacists. The campaign is supported by Cork City Council, Cork County Council and Kerry County Council.

  • Find more important information regarding the safe storage of medicines here
  • For more information on previous DUMP campaigns, please visit here

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