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Storage, reuse, and disposal of unused medications: A cross-sectional study among rural households of Singur, West Bengal

Swanya Prabha Maharana, Bobby Paul, Aparajita Dasgupta, Shobhit Garg.

Background: Medicines can often make the difference between life and death. With recent advances, the use of medicines has increased drastically. The WHO reports that 50% medicines are prescribed, dispensed, or sold inappropriately and that half of all patients fail to consume them correctly giving rise to a large proportion of households possessing unused medicines.

Objectives: The present study was done to find out the proportion of unused medicines present in the households of a village in Singur, West Bengal, and the reasons behind medications left unused. It also aimed to study their practice of storage, disposal, and reuse of left over medicines.

Materials and Methods: It was a rural community-based, cross-sectional study conducted among 143 households. Data were collected with a pre-tested schedule and checklist. Frequency distribution, binary, and multivariable logistic regression were used to interpret the data.

Results: Among the surveyed households, 67.1% had unused medicines, of which 34.4% were antacids followed by antipyretics (31.25%) and antibiotics (28.1%). Age ≥40 years’ odds ratio (OR) (confidence interval [CI]) - 2.8 (1.2-6.7), joint family OR (CI) - 4.1 (1.7-9.7), and households with under-5 children OR (CI) - 3.1 (1.1-9.1) were found to be significantly associated with the presence of unused medications. The most common reason cited for keeping drugs was discontinuation of the drugs due to recovery from illness. Plan to reuse the medicines in near future was the predominant reason for storage.

Conclusion: Drug take-back initiatives should be encouraged in our country and a community pharmacy may be organized so that unused medicines can be channelized to the needy patients.

Key words: Unused Medicines; Storage; Disposal; Drug Take-back Initiatives; Expired

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