Destruction of Schedule 8 medicines by community pharmacists

As of 29 September 2023, the Poisons and Therapeutic Goods Regulation 2008 will allow a pharmacist who practises at a community pharmacy to destroy a drug of addiction (Schedule 8 medicine) at the pharmacy in the presence of an *independent witness.

A pharmacist who destroys a Schedule 8 medicine must record the following in the drug register kept at the pharmacy:

(a) the date of destruction,

(b) the name and quantity of the medicine destroyed,

(c) the pharmacist’s name, registration number and signature,

(d) the independent witness’s name, registration number and signature.

* independent witness means a medical practitioner, nurse practitioner or pharmacist who:

(a) is not employed or otherwise engaged to provide professional services at the pharmacy, and

(b) is not a family member# of the pharmacist, and

(c) if the independent witness is a pharmacist—does not have a financial interest, within the meaning of the Health Practitioner Regulation National Law (NSW), Schedule 5F, in the pharmacy.

#family member means the person’s:

(a)  spouse or de facto partner

(b)  parent or step parent, or a sibling of the person’s parent or step parent

(c)  grandparent or step grandparent

(d)  sibling or step sibling, or a child of the person’s sibling or step sibling

(e)  child or step child

(f)  grandchild or step grandchild.

How to destroy Schedule 8 medicines

Things to remember:

  • Any identified Schedule 8 medicine returned by a patient must be entered into the drug register immediately on receipt listing the patient’s name, address, medicine and quantity.
  • Any expired Schedule 8 medicine from pharmacy stock must be quarantined from usable stock and transferred to separate page of the register labelled for Schedule 8 medicines for destruction.
  • No medicines should be discarded down the sink or into the toilet.
  • Schedule 8 medicines from a private health facility or residential care facility need to be destroyed on those premises (and not returned to the pharmacy).

Methods for destroying Schedule 8 medicines

Things to have on hand:

  • absorbent material such as clay kitty litter or paper towels
  • liquid soap detergent and/or other detergents to render medicines “unusable”
  • sharps bin and/or RUM bin
  • mortar and pestle.

All Schedule 8 medicines for destruction should be removed from packaging (except ampoules) and rendered unusable.

Ampoules: Wrap cardboard box containing the ampoules in paper towel to absorb the liquid, stomp on the box to crush the ampoules, place in a sharps container.

Liquids: Pour into absorbent material such as kitty litter, add detergent.

Tablets/Capsules/Films/Lozenges: Place in a heat resistant container such as a mortar and add boiling water and detergent, allow to dissolve over time, crush any remaining solids using the pestle, pour into absorbent material such as kitty litter (start with extended-release products as they take longer to dissolve).

Transdermal patches: Remove the patch from packaging, cut patch with scissors in small pieces, add to kitty litter with detergent.

Cannabis plant material:Grind using a mortar and pestle, add detergent, pour into absorbent material such as kitty litter.

Place all destroyed materials other than sharps into a RUM bin and seal closed.