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National Return of Unwanted Medicines Project

Posted by Jean Spinks on 23 June 2016

A group of Griffith researchers have been appointed to undertake an audit of the National Return of Unwanted Medicines (RUM) program. The RUM program was initiated in 1998 by the Commonwealth Department of Health to facilitate the collection and safe disposal of unwanted and out-of-date medicines from the Australian community. Under this scheme, consumers Australia-wide can take unwanted medicines to their local pharmacy, who then arranges collection for high-temperature incineration. Inappropriate disposal of medicines, including throwing them in the regular rubbish collection or flushing down sinks and toilets can lead to detection of these substances in the waterways which has environmental consequences.

The aims of the project are two-fold. Firstly, a detailed analysis of the types and amounts of medicines being disposed of will be undertaken. Secondly, a consumer household survey will be undertaken to estimate the numbers of Australian households who are using this service, and for those who are not, how awareness of this program may be increased. This information can be used to inform the government of how better to manage the program in the future.

Led by Professor Amanda Wheeler from the School of Human Services, the team also includes Dr Jean Spinks and Emilie Bettington from the Centre for Applied Health Economics, School of Medicine and Dr Fiona Kelly from the School of Pharmacy. The project will run for six months from May until November 2016. For further information or inquiries, please contact (Dr Alejandra Gallardo-Godoy ph 33821310) in the first instance.


Jean SpinksAuthor: Jean Spinks
About: Dr Jean Spinks is a Research Fellow in Health Economics with a focus on Access to Medicines issues. Jean is a registered pharmacist who has worked in community and hospital pharmacy in Australia and internationally in the Asia-Pacific region. She has post-graduate qualifications in public health, and has undertaken the two-year Victorian Public Health Training Scheme. She has published a number of papers in the areas of health economics and public health.

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