International Journal of Clinical Pharmacy

, Volume 37, Issue 1, pp 121–126 | Cite as

An analysis of unused and expired medications in Mexican households

  • Sandra Leticia Gracia-VásquezEmail author
  • Evangelina Ramírez-Lara
  • Ivonne Antonieta Camacho-Mora
  • Lucía G. Cantú-Cárdenas
  • Yolanda Araceli Gracia-Vásquez
  • Patricia C. Esquivel-Ferriño
  • Mónica Azucena Ramírez-Cabrera
  • Patricia Gonzalez-Barranco
Research Article


Background Unsafe storage of unused medications at home leads to an increased risk of toxicity, accidental childhood poisoning or risk for suicide, whereas an improper disposal of unwanted/expired medications from household raises concern about environmental pollution. Objective The aim of the study was to characterize expired medications collected according to the types of therapeutic groups, pharmaceutical dosage forms, expiration dates and were prescribed or over the counter drugs, and whether they came from Mexican health system or purchased by patients themselves. Setting The study was conducted in the metropolitan area of Monterrey during a 12-month period from March 2012 to February 2013. Method Unused/expired drugs were collected according to the collection and disposal of expired medication program instituted by the Department of Health of the State of Nuevo León. Pharmacists and students from The Autonomous University of Nuevo León recorded types of therapeutic groups, total of medicines in each group, among other classification criteria. Main outcome measure The proportion of every collected therapeutic group, type of dosage forms, and expiration date. Results The amount of medications classified was 22,140 items corresponding to a 30 % of the total collected medications in that period of time; most of them belonged to the non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (16.11 %). According to the pharmaceutical dosage forms, results showed that a high percentage were solid dosage forms (73.39 %), of the total unused/expired medications, most of them were prescription drugs (91 %) which were purchased at private pharmacies. Expiration date of medications ranges from 1995 to 2016, being 2011 the outstanding year (36.66 %). Conclusion Addressing the aspect of unused drug disposition constitutes a challenge for Mexican government, due to health implications related to inadequate disposition. No matter how efficient the programs of collection and disposal of expired drugs are, none of them can collect all unused or expired drugs, that is the reason why the best approach might be to prevent this need.


Expired medications Medicine waste Mexico Therapeutic groups Unused medications 



The authors acknowledge Universidad Autónoma de Nuevo León, Facultad de Ciencias Químicas for providing financial assistance and research facilities to carry out this research.


The authors acknowledge Secretaría de Salud del Estado de Nuevo León (The State Health System) for providing funding to accomplish this research.

Conflicts of interest

The authors report no conflicts of interest.


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Copyright information

© Koninklijke Nederlandse Maatschappij ter bevordering der Pharmacie 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  • Sandra Leticia Gracia-Vásquez
    • 1
    Email author
  • Evangelina Ramírez-Lara
    • 1
  • Ivonne Antonieta Camacho-Mora
    • 1
  • Lucía G. Cantú-Cárdenas
    • 1
  • Yolanda Araceli Gracia-Vásquez
    • 1
  • Patricia C. Esquivel-Ferriño
    • 1
  • Mónica Azucena Ramírez-Cabrera
    • 1
  • Patricia Gonzalez-Barranco
    • 1
  1. 1.Facultad de Ciencias QuímicasUniversidad Autónoma de Nuevo León (UANL)San Nicolás de los GarzaMexico

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