An analysis of unused and expired medications in Mexican households

Sandra Leticia Gracia-Vásquez, Evangelina Ramírez-Lara, Ivonne Antonieta Camacho-Mora, Lucía G Cantú-Cárdenas, Yolanda Araceli Gracia-Vásquez, Patricia C Esquivel-Ferriño, Mónica Azucena Ramírez-Cabrera, Patricia Gonzalez-Barranco
International Journal of Clinical Pharmacy 2015, 37 (1): 121-6

BACKGROUND: Unsafe storage of unused medications at home leads to an increased risk of toxicity, accidental childhood poisoning or risk for suicide, whereas an improper disposal of unwanted/expired medications from household raises concern about environmental pollution.

OBJECTIVE: The aim of the study was to characterize expired medications collected according to the types of therapeutic groups, pharmaceutical dosage forms, expiration dates and were prescribed or over the counter drugs, and whether they came from Mexican health system or purchased by patients themselves.

SETTING: The study was conducted in the metropolitan area of Monterrey during a 12-month period from March 2012 to February 2013.

METHOD: Unused/expired drugs were collected according to the collection and disposal of expired medication program instituted by the Department of Health of the State of Nuevo León. Pharmacists and students from The Autonomous University of Nuevo León recorded types of therapeutic groups, total of medicines in each group, among other classification criteria.

MAIN OUTCOME MEASURE: The proportion of every collected therapeutic group, type of dosage forms, and expiration date.

RESULTS: The amount of medications classified was 22,140 items corresponding to a 30 % of the total collected medications in that period of time; most of them belonged to the non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (16.11 %). According to the pharmaceutical dosage forms, results showed that a high percentage were solid dosage forms (73.39 %), of the total unused/expired medications, most of them were prescription drugs (91 %) which were purchased at private pharmacies. Expiration date of medications ranges from 1995 to 2016, being 2011 the outstanding year (36.66 %).

CONCLUSION: Addressing the aspect of unused drug disposition constitutes a challenge for Mexican government, due to health implications related to inadequate disposition. No matter how efficient the programs of collection and disposal of expired drugs are, none of them can collect all unused or expired drugs, that is the reason why the best approach might be to prevent this need.

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