European Healthcare Distribution Association / Groupement International de la Répartition Pharmaceutique


#medsdisposal is a campaign to raise awareness on how to dispose of unused or expired medicines appropriately in Europe, bringing information on current disposal schemes in European countries to one place. GIRP, as the umbrella organization of pharmaceutical full-line wholesalers in Europe, decided to support this joint initiative among European healthcare associations, industry and student organisations, including AESGP, CED, EFPIA, EPSA, EurEau, Medicines For Europe and PGEU.


Pharmaceuticals, such as medicines, can end up in the environment in many ways. The main route is through excretion (when medication is naturally eliminated by your body). Also, to a lesser extent, manufacturing discharges and the improper disposal of medicines – such as flushing them down the toilet or pouring them in the sink – can lead to pharmaceuticals entering the environment.

As human medicines contain active pharmaceutical ingredients and have been designed to impact the human body to prevent or alleviate a medical condition, they could also have unforeseen effects on the environment, although scientific literature is inconclusive on real environmental impacts, which may be attributable to the presence of pharmaceuticals. While it is generally acknowledged that pharmaceuticals occur at extremely low levels in the environment, research is continuously being carried out to evaluate any potential risks. The pharmaceutical industry supports and develops programmes to manage the risks associated with the release of medicines into the environment in order to mitigate any impacts. 

For this reason, most European countries have special collection schemes in place for medicines in order to prevent them from ending up in the environment.  

How do pharmaceuticals end up in the environment?

What is their impact on human health and how can we dispose of them properly?

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