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Expired Medication: Societal, Regulatory and Ethical Aspects of a Wasted Opportunity

Division of Bioorganic Chemistry, School of Pharmacy, Saarland University, 66123 Saarbruecken, Germany
UTCBS (Chemical and Biological Technologies for Health Group), Faculté de Pharmacie de Paris, Université de Paris, CNRS, INSERM, 75006 Paris, France
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2020, 17(3), 787;
Received: 30 December 2019 / Revised: 19 January 2020 / Accepted: 20 January 2020 / Published: 27 January 2020
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Societal Side Effects: The Wider Impact of Pharmaceuticals on Society)
A massive volume of expired medications amasses annually around the world because of pharmaceutical overprescription, combined with overproduction. The accumulation of pharmaceutical waste imposes ecological, economic and social/ethical burdens. Managing this presumed “waste” has developed into a global challenge due to the absence of specific regulations, unreasonable behavior of the patients, and an improper understanding of the concept of “expired medications” in general. This paper summaries, first, the recent literature reporting practices related to the disposal of unused medications. In this context, 48 papers from 34 countries with a total of 33,832 participants point towards a significant lack of public awareness regarding the appropriate disposal of such biologically potent chemicals. These findings are corroborated by a local survey on the disposal practices of unused medicines among pharmacy students at Saarland University. The regulatory aspects surrounding this topic, often based on the official guidelines for the disposal of expired medications and local waste management strategies, are then discussed in light of these findings. Finally, a closer inspection of the epistemic values of expired medications and different strategies for managing expired medications have been reviewed. View Full-Text
Keywords: expiration date; expired medications; pharmaceutical waste; waste management expiration date; expired medications; pharmaceutical waste; waste management
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Alnahas, F.; Yeboah, P.; Fliedel, L.; Abdin, A.Y.; Alhareth, K. Expired Medication: Societal, Regulatory and Ethical Aspects of a Wasted Opportunity. Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2020, 17, 787.

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