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Ask the pharmacist: What should I do with prescription pills I no longer need?

As part of a weekly series, in association with LloydsPharmacy, Suresh Bagga from LloydsPharmacy Online Doctor answers your common medicine queries… 

Suresh Bagga, from LloydsPharmacy Online Doctor, gives expert advice

Suresh Bagga, from LloydsPharmacy Online Doctor, gives expert advice

Q: What should I do with prescription pills I no longer need?

A: Any unwanted or unused medication – pills, liquids or inhalers – should be taken back to a pharmacy.

Never put them in the bin – you don’t want children or animals to get them. And don’t put medication down the loo, either, as it could get into the water supply.

Not all pharmacies will be able to accept unwanted needles, as they must have the right facilities to dispose of them safely, but if your local pharmacy can’t take them, they will be able to tell you where you can take them instead.

Q: Can having a tummy upset affect the pill?

A: Yes – if you vomit within two hours of taking the Pill or have diarrhoea, this can reduce its effectiveness. With most types of the Pill, you should take another dose straight away and this will continue to give you protection, so long as your symptoms have passed. 

But some progesterone-only Pills have to be taken within a three-hour window and if you don’t take again in that time, you will need to use another form of protection for the next 48 hours.

If the upset tummy continues, keep taking the Pill, but if it’s the combined version, also use additional contraception for seven days after the upset tummy has passed (or for two days if you are on the mini Pill) to ensure you’re protected.

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