Medicines Waste Management


Disposal of Unwanted Medicines


Related resources

Pharmacies are obliged to accept back unwanted medicines from patients. The pharmacy will, if required by NHS England or the waste contractor, sort them into solids (including ampoules and vials), liquids and aerosols, and the NHS England’s Area Team will make arrangements for a waste contractor to collect the medicines from pharmacies at regular intervals. Additional segregation is also required under the Hazardous Waste Regulations.

PSNC has worked with the Department of Health, the Environment Agency and others, to prepare guidance for pharmacies. The most authoritative guidance is published by the Department of Health as 07-01 Safe Management of Healthcare Waste.  This has been revised and updated in April 2011 and is available from the Space for Health website.

Service Specification

Essential Service 3 – Disposal of Unwanted Medicines Service Specification

Related Resources

Pre-Acceptance Waste Audits

Please see PSNC guidance on the Pre-Acceptance Waste Audit.When medicines are handed in to a pharmacy it is important for the health and safety implications of this activity to be assessed.

Unwanted Medicines Card

PSNC recommends that pharmacy staff should question people returning medicines to ensure there are no items in the returns which the pharmacy cannot safely dispose of, for example chemicals or products that may be incompatible with others in the waste bin. In order to facilitate this discussion with the person returning the medicines, pharmacies may wish to use the following prompt card:

Unwanted Medicines Card (PDF)

Unwanted Medicines Card (Microsoft Word)

Waste Medicines Health and Safety Briefing

Environment Agency information on Hazardous Waste