List of home medicines, their storage, safe handling, and disposal of unused medicines

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Medicines have revolutionized our lives. They are one of the reasons for our longevity, alleviation of diseases and suffering. Medicines today have a very important role to play and Today we can’t imagine a world without medicines.

Pharmaceuticals are produced and used in an increasingly large volume every year. Increasing medication use often results in an abundant supply of medications in some households. Some of the medication is no longer being used, are unnecessarily hoarded and often end up as medical waste. Unsafe storage of unused medication in households provides an increased risk of accidental childhood poisoning, while improper disposal raises concerns about environmental contamination which could contribute to the development of antibiotic resistance in the environment or exposure of population to irritant andmutagenic anti-cancer medications. THe proble, of medication wastage is common to many countries.


The objective of this study was to investigate the storage and disposal habits for medications of the population in India. Insight into the attitudes and knowledge of the population with respect to the proper medication disposal practices were also analyzed. the availability of medications in rural and urban areas also differ, as well as the education and habits of the people, therefore it was also important to compare the medication disposal behavior of both urban and rural households in this study.

List of Medicines to Keep at Home

Mirror illness and mild aches or pains are common. It is useful to keep a few medicines at home in case we need something when we can’t get to a pharmacy. Always read the labels carefully and follow the instructions and store the medicines out of the reach of children.

I can provide information about medicines. However, it’s important to note that I am not a medical professional, and you should always consult with a healthcare professional or pharmacist for personalized advice regarding medications. If you have specific questions or topics related to medicines, feel free to ask, and I’ll do my best to provide general information.

Here are some general categories of medicines:

  1. Analgesics (Pain Relievers): These are medications that alleviate pain. Common examples include acetaminophen, ibuprofen, and aspirin.
  2. Antibiotics: Drugs that are used to treat bacterial infections. Examples include penicillin, amoxicillin, and ciprofloxacin.
  3. Antivirals: Medications designed to treat viral infections. Examples include oseltamivir (Tamiflu) for influenza and acyclovir for herpes.
  4. Antifungals: Medications used to treat fungal infections. Examples include fluconazole and clotrimazole.
  5. Antidepressants: Drugs used to treat various forms of depression and mood disorders. Examples include fluoxetine (Prozac) and sertraline (Zoloft).
  6. Antihypertensives: Medications that help lower blood pressure. Examples include lisinopril, amlodipine, and metoprolol.
  7. Antidiabetics: Medications used to manage diabetes. Examples include insulin, metformin, and glyburide.
  8. Anticoagulants (Blood Thinners): Drugs that prevent blood clots. Examples include warfarin and rivaroxaban.
  9. Antihistamines: Medications that help relieve allergy symptoms. Examples include cetirizine (Zyrtec) and loratadine (Claritin).
  10. Bronchodilators: Medications that open up the airways in the lungs. Examples include albuterol and salmeterol.


  • Right person
  • Right medication
  • Right time
  • Right dose
  • Right route
  • Right position
  • Right documentation
  • Right to refuse

Safe Storage of Medications

  • Cool and Dry Environment:
    • Most medications should be stored in a cool, dry place. Avoid storing them in areas with high humidity, such as bathrooms, as moisture can degrade the quality of some medications.
    • Ideal storage temperature for most medications is between 59°F and 86°F (15°C to 30°C).
  • Avoid Sunlight:
    • Exposure to direct sunlight and heat can affect the stability of certain medications. Keep medications away from windowsills and other areas where they may be exposed to sunlight.
  • Childproof Containers:
    • Store medications in childproof containers or in a location that is inaccessible to children. Many medications can be harmful if ingested by children.
  • Original Packaging:
    • Keep medications in their original packaging with the label intact. This provides important information such as dosage instructions, expiration date, and potential side effects.
  • Refrigeration when Necessary:
    • Some medications, such as certain antibiotics or liquid formulations, may need refrigeration. Always check the storage instructions on the medication’s packaging or consult your pharmacist or healthcare provider.
  • Secure Storage:
    • Store medications in a secure place to prevent unauthorized access. This is especially important for prescription medications and those with a potential for misuse.
  • Check Expiry Dates:
    • Regularly check the expiration dates on your medications. Do not use medications that have expired, as they may no longer be effective or safe.
  • Separate Storage for Different Medications:
    • Some medications may interact with each other if stored together. Keep different medications separate unless directed otherwise by your healthcare provider.
  • Special Handling for Certain Medications:
    • Some medications, such as insulin or certain injections, may have specific storage requirements. Follow the specific instructions provided by your healthcare provider or pharmacist.
  • Travel Considerations:
    • When traveling, carry medications in their original containers. Keep them in your carry-on bag to ensure they are not affected by temperature extremes during transport.

Safe Handling of Hazardous Medicines in the Home

Handling hazardous medicines at home requires special care to ensure the safety of both the individual administering the medication and others in the household. Hazardous medicines include substances that may pose risks such as toxicity, carcinogenicity, or teratogenicity. Here are some guidelines for the safe handling of hazardous medicines at home:

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  1. Educate Yourself:
    • Understand the specific hazards associated with the medication you are handling. Read the package insert, medication guide, or consult with your healthcare provider or pharmacist.
  2. Personal Protective Equipment (PPE):
    • Use appropriate personal protective equipment, such as gloves and, if necessary, a mask, to minimize direct contact with the medication.
  3. Hand Hygiene:
    • Wash your hands thoroughly before and after handling hazardous medications. This helps prevent contamination and protects you from potential exposure.
  4. Designate a Safe Workspace:
    • Designate a specific, well-ventilated area for preparing and administering hazardous medications. This area should be away from food preparation areas and out of reach of children.
  5. Minimize Aerosolization:
    • Be cautious when opening containers or preparing medications to minimize the generation of dust or aerosols. Avoid crushing tablets or opening capsules unless directed by a healthcare professional.
  6. Use Appropriate Administration Devices:
    • If the medication requires administration through a specific device (e.g., syringe, inhaler), use only the prescribed device and follow the instructions carefully.
  7. Proper Disposal:
    • Dispose of used needles, syringes, and any other contaminated materials in a sharps container. Follow local regulations for the proper disposal of hazardous waste.
  8. Store Safely:
    • Store hazardous medications in a secure location that is inaccessible to children and pets. Follow any specific storage instructions provided by your healthcare provider or pharmacist.
  9. Labeling:
    • Clearly label any containers holding hazardous medications. Include information about the medication, dosage, and any special instructions.
  10. Emergency Preparedness:
    • Know what to do in case of accidental exposure or spillage. Have emergency contact numbers, including poison control, readily available.
  11. Pregnancy and Breastfeeding Considerations:
    • If you are pregnant or breastfeeding, consult with your healthcare provider about potential risks and precautions associated with handling hazardous medications.
  12. Seek Professional Guidance:
    • If you have any concerns or questions about handling a specific hazardous medication, consult with your healthcare provider or pharmacist for guidance.

It’s crucial to follow the guidance provided by healthcare professionals and take the necessary precautions to ensure the safe handling of hazardous medications in the home. If you have any doubts or concerns, don’t hesitate to seek professional advice.

Disposal Methods of Unused/Expired Medicines

Proper disposal of unused or expired medicines is essential to prevent environmental contamination, accidental ingestion, and misuse. Here are some recommended methods for disposing of medicines safely:

  1. Pharmacy or Take-Back Programs:
    • Many pharmacies and drugstores have take-back programs where you can return unused or expired medications. Check with your local pharmacy to see if they offer this service.
  2. Drug Take-Back Events:
    • Some communities organize periodic drug take-back events where you can drop off your unused medications. These events are often coordinated by local law enforcement or health departments.
  3. Authorized Collection Sites:
    • Look for authorized collection sites in your community, such as hospitals, clinics, or law enforcement agencies. They may have collection receptacles for medication disposal.
  4. Mail-Back Programs:
    • Some manufacturers or pharmacies provide mail-back programs, allowing you to send back unused medications for proper disposal. Check with your pharmacy or the medication manufacturer for information on available programs.
  5. Dispose in Household Trash:
    • If no other disposal options are available, you can dispose of most medications in your household trash. However, take certain precautions:
      • Mix the medicine with an undesirable substance like used coffee grounds or kitty litter.
      • Place the mixture in a sealed plastic bag or container to prevent leakage.
      • Remove or scratch out any personal information on the prescription label.
  6. Do Not Flush Medications:
    • Do not flush medications down the toilet unless the specific instructions on the packaging or by your healthcare provider indicate otherwise. Flushing can contribute to water contamination.
  7. Medication Deactivation Systems:
    • Some pharmacies and organizations provide medication deactivation systems or kits that allow you to render medications ineffective and safe for disposal. These kits often contain substances that deactivate the active ingredients.
  8. Check Local Regulations:
    • Be aware of and follow any local regulations or guidelines regarding medication disposal. Some areas may have specific instructions or restrictions.
  9. Sharps Disposal for Injectable Medications:
    • If you have used needles or syringes, follow proper sharps disposal guidelines. Many communities have designated drop-off locations for safe disposal of sharps.
  10. Landfil:
    • To landfill means to place waste directly into a land disposal site without prior treatment or preparation. Landfill is the oldest and the most widely practiced method of disposing of solid waste.

Always check with your healthcare provider or pharmacist if you have any questions about how to dispose of a specific medication. It’s crucial to follow the recommended methods to ensure the safety of the environment and the community.


  1. Bound JP, Voulvoulis N. Household disposal of Pharmaceuticals as a pathway for aquatic contamination in the United Kingdom. Environ Health Perspect. 2005;113(12):1705-11
  2. Abahussain EA, Ball DE. Disposal of unwanted medicines from household in Kuwait. Pharm World Sci 2007;
  3. Websites

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