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HealthInfo Waitaha Canterbury

Safe use, storage & disposal of medicines

Te whakamahinga, te whakarapanga me te ākiritanga haumaru o ngā rongoā


If you think someone has been poisoned, contact the Poison Information Service immediately by phoning 0800-POISON (0800‑764‑766) or seek medical advice from another health professional.

Phone 111 for an ambulance if:

Do not try to make the person vomit or give them food or liquid until you've been given advice.

It's important to use medicines carefully and follow the instructions on the label or packaging.

Make sure you follow the instructions on how to store them properly, otherwise the medicines can break down and become less effective. If there aren't any storage instructions or the instructions are unclear, check with a pharmacist. Keep medicines out of sight and reach of children.

Disposing of unused medicines

Almost everyone has some old or unused medicine at home that they do not know what to do with. It's best not to keep it in the house, as someone could take it by mistake, or a child could get hold of it. It also might not work properly – or even be harmful – if it's past its expiry date.

It's very important to dispose of old or unused medicine properly. Do not put it in the rubbish or flush it down the toilet or sink. Take it back to your pharmacy, which will dispose of it safely for you. You will not have to pay anything for this.

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Written by HealthInfo clinical advisers. Last reviewed March 2023.


See also:

Drug overdose

How to take medicines

Safe sharps disposal

Page reference: 89429

Review key: HISDM-89429