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Medicines disposal during the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic

  • Organisations we regulate

National bodies representing community pharmacy in England have jointly produced guidance for medicine returns.

Disposal of waste medicines is an NHS contractual requirement. People, including care staff, should be able to return unwanted medicines to the pharmacy for disposal. This avoids the potential risk of accidents, overdoses and misuse.

Community pharmacies may be unable to accept waste medicines, due to capacity or infection control measures. During the coronavirus pandemic, care providers should introduce extra measures. You must arrange to temporarily store waste medicines securely before disposal.

You should update risk assessments to reflect this. Make sure you maintain appropriate records for waste medicines. In care homes, store the medicines securely with access restricted to authorised staff.

NHS England and NHS improvement have published a standard operating procedure (SOP) on running a medicines re-use scheme in care homes and hospice settings. This might affect:

  • which medicines are suitable for disposal
  • which may need to be stored for future re-use.
Last updated:
12 May 2020