Initiative for Safe Disposal of Expired Medicine Launched

By Winnie Maina | Saturday Sep 30, 2017

All expired medicine in Kenya is to be surrendered to pharmacists and nearby hospitals for safe disposal by incineration in appropriate facilities in Nairobi and other towns.

This follows an initiative launched by the pharmacy and poisons board (PPB), NEMA and the Pharmaceutical Society of Kenya. The initiative will also involve some supermarkets that will be enlisted as drop-off points. 

According to the director of quality control at PPB, Dr. Obadiah Naikuni, expired medicine is a major health risk and could also harm the environment. It is recommended that to prevent accidental ingestion of these potentially dangerous medicines by children, they should be disposed of quickly through the drug regulatory authority officers, found in the regions.

The World Health Organization in its Access to Essential Medicines Survey in 2009, found that the incidence of expired medicine in Kenya is only about two per cent in drugs outlets, but could be higher in people’s homes.

Expired medical products can be less effective or risky due to a change in chemical composition or a decrease in strength. Certain expired medications are at risk of bacterial growth and less potent antibiotics can fail to treat infections, leading to more serious illnesses and antibiotic resistance.

Dr. Juliet Konje a member of the national executive committee at the Pharmaceutical Society of Kenya said that the Society plans to hold annual sensitization campaigns to improve awareness on safe disposal of medicine. She also expressed concerns on the accumulation of expired drugs stock that may result in reverse movement of expired drugs finding their way back to the market, posing a great danger to public safety.

Dr. Farzana Sundegi, the head of My Dawa Operations, said disposal of products like non-biodegradable antibiotics into the sewage system kills the bacteria necessary for the treatment of sewerage which increases the risk of disease spread.

Tablets and capsules have the longest shelf-life, and many are good for as long as five years. Medicine expiry date can be found printed on the label or stamped onto the bottle or carton. Liquids and injected medications like insulin last for much shorter periods, with some antibiotics losing potency in as little as 10 to 14 days.

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