4. Disposal of Unwanted Medicines


Unwanted medicines returned by the public

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 NHS England will make arrangements to collect the medicines from pharmacies at regular intervals. Additional segregation may also be required under the Hazardous Waste Regulations.

Waste must be accepted from the public and residential homes, but must not be accepted from nursing homes (who must make their own arrangements). Schedule 2 and 3 controlled drugs which are subject to  safe custody requirements should be segregated and stored appropriately before destruction (see our CD Incident Reporting and Accountable Officer page)

There is no requirement in the specification to collect medicines from patients’ homes or residential homes (for example using a delivery driver). Community Pharmacy Lincolnshire would suggest significant caution if you do this routinely as it could be classed as ‘transfer of waste’ and would require your business to have appropriate certification from the Environment Agency.

Service Specification

Essential Service 3 – Disposal of Unwanted Medicines Service Specification

Further information and resources, including the PSNC’s guidance on the Pre-Acceptance Waste Audit, can be found on the PSNC website: click here

Should you need to arrange another collection, please contact the local NHSE team.

COVID-19 update:

An update is available on the following link for disposal of unwanted medicine during the COVID-19 pandemic: click here