Disposal practices for unused and expired medications: pilot data from three cities in three countries



Document Type

Journal Article

Publication Date


Publication Title

GMS health innovation and technologies



First Page



Italy, Japan, United States, expired medications, pharmacy, unused medications


To collect pilot data on medication disposal practices of unused and expired medications from three cities in three countries. A cross-sectional survey was conducted in Pittsburgh, United States (US); Turin, Italy; and Kobe, Japan. A convenience sampling was utilized through drug take-back programs in Pittsburgh, US; pharmacy customers in Turin, Italy; and pharmacy students and family members in Kobe, Japan. Descriptive analysis was conducted to assess medications disposal practices including attitudes and beliefs of respondents. The sample included 342 respondents [99 (Pittsburgh, US); 168 (Turin, Italy); and 75 (Kobe, Japan)]. The mean unused and expired medications per patient for Pittsburgh, US was (1.60±2.30 and 0.51±1.54); Turin, Italy (1.69±1.86 and 0.49±1.22) and Kobe, Japan (6.69±8.78 and 0.84±2.26). The major reason for unused medications in Pittsburgh, US (31.3%) was "Medication was as needed"; in Turin, Italy (28.0%) "No longer suffer from the condition"; and in Kobe, Japan (54.7%) "No longer suffer from the condition". The most common reason for expired medications was "No longer suffer from the condition" (Pittsburgh, US 17.2%; Turin, Italy 15.5%; Kobe, Japan 12.0%). The disposal method in Pittsburgh, US was disposing in the toilet (35.4%); returned to the pharmacy in Turin, Italy (51.2%); and disposed the original container in the trash in Kobe, Japan (82.7%). There is a need for counseling protocols regarding proper disposal, which can lead to better adherence, reduction of prescription drug abuse, and less environmental hazards due to improper disposal of prescription medications.

Open Access