Dr Ali Syed, director of DHA’s pharmaceutical division. Image Credit: Supplied

Dubai: Several tonnes of medicines beyond their expiry dates are being discarded as waste by Dubai residents every year, said a top Dubai Health Authority (DHA) official.

The DHA which launched its ‘Clean Your Cabinet’ campaign to encourage residents to hand over the unused medicines to DHA pharmacies has discovered that people have a huge pile of unused medicines lying at home.

Dr Ali Syed, director of DHA’s pharmaceutical division, told Gulf News: “Our ‘Clean Your Medicine’ campaign was launched in 2011 to raise awareness among Dubai residents to drop off their unused medication at DHA pharmacies across the city at no extra cost. In the first two or three years, the response was lukewarm. However, in 2016 and 2017, we received 10 tonnes of expired medicines from residents and about two tonnes of medication that was well within their expiry dates that were donated to charities to be given away to the underprivileged and needy.”

Dr Syed added: “The aim of the campaign is two-fold — safe and effective disposal of deteriorated or expired medicines and donation of valid medications to charities.”

Every month, medicines worth half a million dirhams are being given away to charities by the DHA since this campaign was launched.

Dr Syed added: “Expired medications are disposed of in line with the international pharmaceutical safety guidelines. Unutilised medications are first re-evaluated by experts within the pharmacy department and then the DHA donates valid medications that are in a good condition to charities.

“Expired medication can pose serious health risks to individuals if not disposed of properly. Flushing down your medication is harmful for the environment and pollutes the water and disposing of the medicines in the garbage (even if it is tightly sealed) pollutes the soil. Therefore, the best way to dispose of outdated medications is to return the medicines to the pharmacy for safe disposal.”

Residents are being encouraged to drop their medication at any of the DHA pharmacies across the 16 DHA primary health centres or those attached to hospitals (Rashid, Latifa, Dubai and Hatta).

How to donate unused medicines

Collect your unused medicines and drop them off at the nearest DHA pharmacy at any of the 16 primary health centres or DHA hospitals.

The pharmacies will accept all kinds of medication, before or after expiry

The pharmacist will examine the medication to determine if it is beyond expiry date and needs to be discarded or it can be used by an underprivileged person.