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Public warned about out-of-date medicines

People in the UK have received a fresh warning about the dangers of keeping out-of-date medicines in their cabinets and not disposing of them properly.

People in the UK have received a fresh warning about the dangers of keeping out-of-date medicines in their cabinets and not disposing of them properly.

The results of a survey conducted on behalf of Lloydspharmacy, announced on April 16, reveal that British medicine cabinets could be storing more than 40 million out-of-date drugs. It also revealed that one in seven people surveyed could not remember when they last checked their medicine cabinets and almost a third of respondents admit to owning at least one expired medication.

Nick Mortimer, superintendent pharmacist for Lloydspharmacy, said: "Not only does keeping drugs in cabinets increase the risk of them being accidentally used, they are unlikely to be effective as active ingredients change over time. People can bring old medicines to Lloydspharmacy and we will dispose of them responsibly."

A survey of 2005 people carried out in February 2008 by YouGov suggests that only 26 per cent of the British public are likely to have purged their medicine cabinets in the past month. The younger generation appear to be even less careful with the drugs they store. Only 11 per cent at those questioned aged between 18 and 24 claim to keep check of their personal supply of medicines.

Stephen Hallworth, spokesman for the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA), said: "There are strict guidelines to be adhered to in terms of packaging and labelling of medicines."

"The key thing is that clearly once medicine has expired there could be concerns over its efficacy and over its quality and over its safety," he added.

Lloydspharmacy has advised people to 'spring-clean' their medicine cabinets to ensure that they store all drugs in accordance with the instructions detailed on the packaging.

Hallworth said: "I think the best advice is to make sure that if you do come across any out-of-date medicines to take them back to your pharmacy."

16th April 2008

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