Monash reports on medicine collections from Australian pharmacies

24 April 2014

Senator the Honourable Fiona Nash, Assistant Minister for Health, has launched the findings of a landmark audit of collections of out-of-date and unwanted medicines sampled from pharmacies all over Australia, conducted by the Centre for Medicine Use and Safety (CMUS), Monash University.

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The survey found that an estimated 540 tons of medicines annually are subjected to environmentally safe disposal by the Return Unwanted Medicines (RUM) Project, and of that total, 44% had not expired.
The majority of medicines (68%) belonged to five therapeutic classes: cardiovascular (18%), nervous system (17%), alimentary tract (16%), respiratory (9%) and anti-infective (8%)—which correlates well with PBS dispensing data.
Of the most commonly discarded medicines, insulin (in all its forms), salbutamol, paracetamol, frusemide and glyceryl trinitrate were the top 5.
Eighty-five percent of the returned medicines were scheduled—1% Schedule 4, and 9%, 8% and 2% Schedule 2, 3 and 8 respectively.
The Monash report concludes that the National Returned & Disposal of Unwanted Medicines (NatRUM) Program is a critically important and highly viable public health initiative, safeguarding the health of consumers in Australia, and the environment.
The chairman of NatRUM, Mr Warwick Plunkett said, “The results of the audit have provided a valuable insight into the utilization of the NatRUM program by pharmacists as well as some of the medicine consumption and hoarding habits of the public. These findings are likely to generate a number of important recommendations for government and pharmacy organizations around the PBS and the pharmacist’s role in dispensing medications and their ongoing management.
The audit also underlines the important role NatRUM plays in the government’s QUM policy with the removal of outdated and unwanted medicines from the home, in an environmentally appropriate way, while reducing dramatically the potential hazards of misuse and accidental poisoning that such hoarding can produce.

About Monash University’s Bachelor of Pharmacy

Monash University’s Bachelor of Pharmacy (BPharm) program produces graduates with a sound knowledge and understanding of the science, technology and practice behind pharmacy as a profession. It comprises four major areas of study: medicinal chemistry (the chemistry of drugs); pharmacology (the action of drugs); pharmaceutics (the presentation and delivery of drugs); and pharmacy practice (the application of all these to the professional practice of pharmacy).
Program: Bachelor of Pharmacy (BPharm)
Location: Melbourne, Victoria
Semester intake: February 2015
Duration: 4 years
Application deadline: While there is no set application deadline, applicants are strongly encouraged by Monash University to submit their Bachelor of Pharmacy applications before the end of September for the February intake.

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Do you have questions about Monash Pharmacy School and about studying pharmacy at Australian universities? Contact OzTREKK’s Australian Pharmacy Schools Officer Rachel Brady by emailing, or call toll free in Canada at 1 866-698-7355. Find out how you can study in Australia!