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Have you checked your medicine cabinet?

Return Unwanted Medicines has launched a new awareness campaign that explains the dangers of keeping expired and unwanted medicine in the home and explains how people should to dispose of medicines responsibly.

It is recommended for older Australians who may have a stocked medicine cabinet that might not be aware of any expiry dates on their medicines.

It is estimated that there are millions of medicines sitting in Australian homes – either out-of-date or no longer needed. These quantities of medicines pose a huge danger of accidental poisonings and medication mismanagement.

Most accidental poisonings occur in children younger than five years old, with children aged one to three years being at the greatest risk, but it is well worth check your medicines for your own safety as well.

Return Unwanted Medicines - or the RUM Project - is a Federal Government-funded initiative that provides all Australians with a free and convenient way to dispose of expired and unwanted household medicines.

Anyone can return their medicines to any community pharmacy at any time, for safe collection and disposal.

A recent Griffith University study of over 4,300 Australians* found more than 80% of people are completely unware of the RUM Project and do not know how to dispose of unwanted medicines safely and appropriately.

“Last year alone, over 700 tonnes of medicines were collected and safely disposed of by the RUM Project, preventing it from ending up in waterways or landfill. If that’s only medicines collected from around 20% of the population, imagine how many more are hiding in bathroom cabinets and kitchen drawers across the country,” said Toni Riley, Project Manager, RUM, and community pharmacist.

The Griffith University study also revealed that most respondents (67%) said they disposed of unwanted medicines with the usual household garbage; followed by being poured down the drain or toilet (23.3%) and less than a quarter (23%) actually disposed of their medication by returning it to a pharmacy.

“By following three simple steps of READ, REMOVE & RETURN, Australians can minimise the risk of unintended poisonings and medication mix-ups, and do their bit to protect the environment,” continued Ms Riley.

Return Unwanted Medicines is urging Australians to follow 3 simple steps to a safer home and cleaner environment:

For more information on Return Unwanted Medicines, visit or talk to your local pharmacist.



A new treatment for Parkinson’s disease, rasagiline (brand name Azilect) adds to the range of options for people with Parkinson’s disease, but is unlikely to control symptoms any better than existing treatments, according to a new independent review by NPS.

Rasagiline (Azilect) was listed on the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS) on 1 August 2012.

Parkinson's disease symptoms are caused by a lack of dopamine, a naturally occurring chemical produced in the brain which affects movement.

NPS clinical adviser Dr Philippa Binns says that medicines for Parkinson’s disease all work by increasing the amount of dopamine available to the brain, but do this in different ways.

“When it comes to deciding the best treatment for you, there are a few factors you and your doctor will need to consider carefully, including your age, your symptoms and other medical conditions, what other medicines you take and the possibility of long-term treatment side effects,” says Dr Binns.

“The best treatment for you is the one with the best balance of side effects and symptom control.

“Rasagiline may benefit people who are unable to take other medicines for Parkinson’s disease due to side effects, or those recently diagnosed with less severe Parkinson’s symptoms. It can also be added to levodopa therapy.”

Dr Binns recommends people considering this medicine read the full review in Medicine Update before having an informed discussion with their doctor or pharmacist. The independent review outlines who is the medicine is suitable for, how it should be used, how it works, any potential side effects and how it compares to existing treatments.

“Before starting any new medicine, talk to your doctor or pharmacist about how it works, potential side effects and whether it is the best medicine for you,” says Dr Binns.

“Educate yourself about your medicine options so you can have a well-informed discussion with your health professional and be an active partner in your own health care.”

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