June 30, 2019
Why are unwanted drugs not donated to developing countries?
Unwanted medicines being sent to a developing country or in disaster situations is often thought to be a useful way to provide much needed supplies, but past experiences have shown this not to be a great solution.
Unfortunately not all medicine donations are helpful, and inappropriate medicine donations can be dangerous or useless, and are often a source of further problems to the country involved.
In Guatemala in 1976, 7000 cartons of mixed medicines were donated. It took almost six months to sort these drugs and only 10% of the medicines sent were adequately labeled and actually relevant to the health needs of those in Guatemala. This is one of many examples which lead to the World Health Authority developing guidelines to assist other countries in developing their own policies.
Australian Guidelines have been developed to guide any donations overseas to ensure the appropriate, good quality and essential medicines can be made available in times of need. If medicines are to be donated, the country seeking the donation must officially request specific machines before they can be sent.
Always remember if the quality of medicine is not suitable for use in Australia, it is not suitable for donation to an overseas country, and the collection and redistribution of any unused medicines is not permitted.
The Return of Unwanted Medicines Project is a free service that offers a way to dispose of unwanted or expired medicines safely and conveniently at your local community pharmacy. Find out more about the service here.