Storage and disposal of unused medications: knowledge, behavior, and attitudes among Serbian people
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Background Improper disposal of medications potentially poses a significant environmental risk and storage of expired and unused medications in households provides an increased risk of accidental childhood poisonings. Objective The objective of this study was to investigate the storage and disposal habits of medications amongst the population in the South Bačka District of Serbia, and to gain insight into the attitudes and knowledge of the population about the proper disposal of medications. Setting Households in South Bačka District. Method The study was conducted during the 6-month period from February 2010 to July 2010 and involved a random sample of households. The questionnaire-based study was performed by a trained interviewer. Main outcome measure number of expired and unused medications in families, behavior and knowledge about the disposal of medications. Results Of 230 families, 208 (108 urban and 100 rural) agreed to participate and complete the questionnaire(90 % response rate). The drugs were mostly kept in a specific place-home pharmacy (89.8 % [urban] and 89.0 % [rural]). Exposure of children to medications in the home environment was similar in urban and rural families (19.6 % [urban] and 23.1 % [rural]). The frequency of expired medications was not observed to be different between the urban and rural households (10.3 % [urban] and 11.8 % [rural]). The most common method for disposal of household medications is disposal in the garbage (85.6 % [urban] and 74.5 % [rural]) or in the toilet (8.7 % [urban] and 6.4 % [rural]). However, inconsistent with disposal practices, half of the urban and rural participants thought that throwing medications in the garbage, toilet, or sink has a detrimental effect on the environment. Conclusion Public services in Serbia, including government and health sectors, need to be more proactive about educating people on how to store and dispose medications, as well as finding a way for implementation of the law on medications wastage destruction.
KeywordsConsumer behaviour Medication storage Medication disposal Medication wastage Serbia
This work was supported by the Ministry of Science and Technological development, Republic of Serbia, project No. 41012 and is part of the project No. 114-451-2458/2011 (Provincial Secretariat for Science and Technological Development, Autonomous Province of Vojvodina).
Conflicts of interest
The authors of this manuscript have no conflicts of interest to declare.
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