Free Service to ‘Dispose of Unused Medicines Properly’ (DUMP) launched in Waterford

The HSE/South East Community Healthcare is asking the public to avail of a free service to dispose of unused medication over the next few weeks.

The free ‘Dispose of Unused Medicines Properly’ (DUMP) Campaign will enable anyone in the Waterford City/County and South Kilkenny area to bring unused or out of date medicines to the designated “DUMP” site at the HSE’s Waterford Vaccinations centre in Kilcohan, Waterford.

The HSE advises that unused or out of date medicine can pose a danger in the home. Such unwanted medicines should be disposed of properly, should not be put in the bin or flushed away as this poses a danger to children, pets, the environment and water systems.  

Explaining why people should take this opportunity to safely dispose of unwanted medicines, HSE Pharmacist Fiona Maher says:

“The HSE urges people to take this opportunity to get rid of out of date or unused medicines. Medication can pose a real hazard in the home, particularly to children or other vulnerable people. Clearing out your medicine cabinet is something that should be done on a regular basis. Check all the dates and remove anything that is out of date or no longer required. Medicines have an expiry date for the same reason food does and out of date medicines could do more harm than good.”

“It’s important that medicines are disposed of correctly. Disposing of medicines in the rubbish bin means that they could be accessed by children or pets. Flushing medicine down the sink or toilet means that medicine residues can enter the environment and even small amounts of medicines can affect freshwater ecosystems.” 

“Medicines can build up in the home for a variety of reasons (e.g. you might have an unfinished courses of antibiotics or have medication for a condition/illness that is no longer a problem). Also, older people or someone with an ongoing illness can often have large amounts of medicine at home. Whatever the reason, the HSE/South East Community Healthcare urges householders to take this opportunity to dispose of these unwanted medicines (prescription or over-the-counter) safely.

HSE/South East Community Healthcare’s Resource Officer for Suicide Prevention Tracy Nugent says:

“There are risks involved in storing large quantities of medication at home, including:

  • Accidental poisonings (particularly in children): In 2021, the National Poisons Information Centre in Beaumont Hospital received 10,847 enquiries involving poisoning in humans. Almost 60% of these related to children under 14 years old. Most poisonings involving children took place in the child’s home and more than half of poisonings involved medicines, with Paracetamol and Ibuprofen being the most common medicine involved. Brightly coloured medications or liquids can easily be mistaken for sweets or drinks by children or other vulnerable people.
  • Inappropriate sharing of medicines: It is important that medicines are taken as directed by the person for whom they were prescribed and only that person. Medication is prescribed to cure illness/infection, however, sharing or not completing courses of medication may cause illness, injury, or even death. Also, when antibiotics are used inappropriately (i.e. not completing the course or sharing with someone), not all bacteria are destroyed and more resistant bacteria survive and multiply. These drug-resistant bacteria then make it harder to prevent and treat infections because fewer antibiotics are effective against them. Increased antimicrobial resistance is a serious threat to global public health.
  • Overdose suicide attempts: The National Suicide Research Foundation (NSRF) reported that in 2020, there were 12,553 presentations to hospitals due to self-harm and 62% or 2 out of every 3 presentations were due to intentional drug overdose using prescription or over-the-counter medicines. The NSRF also revealed in a recent study that there were 10,985 paracetamol-related drug overdoses recorded among young people in Ireland between 2007 and 2018.
  • Damage to the environment: Unwanted medicines are often inappropriately disposed of by being dumped with other household waste, flushed down the toilet or poured down the sink. These methods of disposal can seriously harm the environment with products ending up in landfill, permeating the soil and entering our food chain and water supply.

“Most households will have a quantity of medicine in their home and it is important that it is stored correctly and out of reach of children or other vulnerable people. The HSE/South East Community Healthcare is encouraging you to use this DUMP service over the coming weeks.”

Last updated on: 10 / 05 / 2023