Be good to nature and society – avoid overstocking your medicine cabinet

29.8.2022 8:47
Elina Rintala bloggaa lääkkeiden kotivarasta

Many of us buy medication even when it’s not immediately needed, just to be on the safe side. After all, you never know when you might get the flu or have allergy symptoms. It is obviously good to have some basic medication at home, but having excessive amounts can mean ending up with environmentally harmful waste when the medication goes out of date. Unnecessary purchasing of medication can even leave society less prepared for unexpected scenarios, says our quality assurance pharmacist Elina Rintala.

Exceptional events in society and the world at large have in recent years made us want to prepare for a range of eventualities – and we’ve actually been encouraged to do so. However, you should not go too far, whether it concerns the contents of your medicine cabinet or your larder.

Hoarding excessive amounts of medication may even jeopardise our preparedness as a nation, as medication that has been bought and locked up for a rainy day is out of reach of anyone in acute need. Moderation is also a good idea when it comes to the environment: medicines have an expiry date, and cause unnecessary wastage when disposed of. This causes particular harm if medicines are not disposed of properly.

Only buy medication you really need

Most Finnish households buy basic medication for pain and fever, such as ibuprofen or paracetamol, as well as bandages, and medical charcoal in case of poisoning. For most people, this is quite enough in case of sudden illness or accident. 

However, people have different needs. It is a good rule of thumb that you should only get a basic supply of medication that you need from day to day. For example, there is no point in buying antihistamines if nobody in the family has ever suffered from allergies.

It is enough to have a supply of medication for three days at home – so one packet of over-the-counter medicine is enough. Through online pharmacies, you can buy over-the-counter medicines if your illness takes longer and you cannot get to the pharmacy yourself.

If you take regular medication, make sure you always have enough for at least a week to ensure that you can get more of it before you run out. Even with regular medication, however, the prescription may change, so buying small packages reduces the risk of any wastage. Another good alternative is to make use of a dose-dispensing service, providing you with a daily supply for a chosen period.

You should not have large amounts of prescription drugs at home either, because they cannot be reused even if you do not need them any more and they haven’t gone out of date.

Unused or expired medication should be taken to the pharmacy for safe disposal and processing as hazardous waste. This ensures that they will not end up in the wrong hands and will not pollute the environment, such as the Baltic Sea and other waterways.

We will not run out

From a global perspective, Finland is really well stocked with medicines – and has been since the wars in the 1940s. Finnish legislation ensures a supply of medicines for months ahead.

Tamro also stores products and ensures that pharmacies remain well stocked. During the coronavirus pandemic, we have become even better prepared, and have tested our processes under a number of scenarios. We offer pharmacies electronic services for checking the availability of medication in real time. This ensures that there is always enough medication available even under unexpected circumstances.