Storage and disposal of expired medicines in home pharmacies: emerging public health problems

ABSTRACT Objective To characterize storage and disposal practices associated with expired medicines in home pharmacies of Primary Care users. Methods Cross-sectional study based on data collected from 423 users of 15 Primary Care units located in a Brazilian city, between August 2014 and July 2016. Data were collected via face-to-face interviews. Categorical (demographic and socioeconomic characteristics) and continuous variables were expressed as proportions and means and standard deviations, respectively . Storage behaviors and disposal practices associated with unused and expired medicines were described as frequencies. Results Most (83%) interviewees were female and approximately 70% had completed high school. The kitchen was the most common medicine storage place (58.6%). Approximately 75% of participants reported inappropriate medicine disposal practices. Conclusion This study revealed high rates of inappropriate medicine disposal practices with direct impacts on pharmacological treatment and the environment. Continuing education of healthcare professionals and the general public is required to raise awareness about proper medicine use and disposal.