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Medicine Safety

In Ireland, unintentional poisoning among children under the age of five results in 1,000 hospital admissions each year.

Store Your Medicines Safely

It is recommended that:

  • Medicines be stored out of direct sunlight, in a cool dry place. Kitchens and bathrooms are not ideal for storing medicines as these rooms can be too warm or damp.
  • You keep medicines in their original containers.
  • You keep labels on the containers for tablets as they have instructions on storage, expiry dates as well as instructions for taking of the tablets.
  • Some medicines may need to be refrigerated. If you find that medication has been left out of the fridge by accident you should contact your pharmacist for advice on whether to dispose of the medication or use it within a certain time.

Protect Your Children

Children like to copy adults.  If your children see you taking tablets then it is likely that if they get the opportunity to take those tablets they will. Here are a few simple safety steps to improve medication safety in your home:

  • Keep all medicines out of your children's reach and sight.  Keep the medicines in a high shelf or locked drawer.  Don't forget that children are good climbers.
  • Ask your pharmacist to put your medicines in child resistant containers.  Remember that most containers are child resistant but not child proof.  They will eventually figure out how to open it if they are given enough opportunities.
  • Grandparents and elderly people are more likely to have medication in their homes. Therefore when you and your children are visiting their homes, it is always advisable to make sure that their medicines are out of your children's reach.
  • Ensure that anyone caring for your children has their medication safely out of reach. 

Here is a short video highlighting the risks medicine safety in the home.

Beware of Buying Drugs Online

Everyday millions of email inboxes receive offers from unsolicited emails offering drugs to help with erectile dysfunction, weight loss or to feel better.  In Ireland Customs seized 51,621 tablets, capsules and creams from 492 packages in one week in 2011.  Why should you be concerned about purchasing drugs online:

  • Your health could suffer. The Irish Medicines Board advises "consumers not to purchase medicines through any unauthorised sources as there can be no guarantee that they are genuine or safe.... there is a very real danger that these medicines will actually damage the health of those who use them".
  • Identity theft and credit card fraud. Typically criminal networks are involved in the sale of many counterfeit medicines online. When a consumer purchases the counterfeit drugs they will provide personal details to the site allowing these criminals access to their name, address, and credit card information.
  • It is illegal. Under Irish law the sale of prescription only medicines by mail order it is prohibited. This prohibits internet supplies of prescription only medicines.

For more information you can read the IMB press release here.