Pharmacy World & Science

, Volume 29, Issue 4, pp 368–373 | Cite as

Disposal of unwanted medicines from households in Kuwait

  • Eman A. Abahussain
  • Douglas E. BallEmail author
Original Paper



To test the effectiveness of a simple educational intervention to encourage households to return unwanted medicines via a municipal collection program and to investigate the most common sources and types of unwanted medicines in the home.


Households in Kuwait City, Kuwait.


A convenience sample of 200 households in Kuwait received an educational letter and special plastic bags in which to place unwanted medicines to be collected by the municipality. They also completed a short self-administered questionnaire on medicine disposal habits. A second convenience sample of an additional 14 households in Kuwait received the same educational letter together with a face-to-face interview and assistance in collecting unwanted medicines. Returned medicines were categorized and their source and expiry dates noted.

Main outcome measure

Quantity and types of medicines returned.


No medicines were collected from the 200 households participating in the municipal collection scheme in spite of 45% of respondents agreeing that this was an appropriate method of disposal. 97% of the respondents said they currently disposed of their medication in the garbage. The second intervention yielded 123 medicines from 14 homes, a third of which were for the respiratory system (38% of these were cough and cold preparations). The majority of returned medications were for acute conditions, almost all were from government health centers and 52% were expired.


Simple collection of unwanted medicines by municipal authorities is unlikely to be effective. A multifaceted approach is more effective but resource intensive. Using local pharmacies as collection points in a reverse distribution system may be more cost-effective.


Medication waste Expired medicines Disposal of medicines Kuwait Community pharmacy 



Thanks to Haneen Al-Benai for interviewing the households and collecting data. The study received no specific funding. Conflicts of interest: None declared.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2007

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Pharmacy Practice, Faculty of PharmacyHealth Sciences Center, Kuwait UniversitySafatKuwait

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