About Return Unwanted Medicines

Established in 1998, RUM is a national, not-for- profit program funded by the Commonwealth Government to address the safe disposal of medicines - a fundamental component to the Quality Use of Medicines (QUM).

Return Unwanted Medicines (or The RUM Project) provides a free and safe method for the disposal of unwanted and expired medicines.

The program works by community pharmacies collecting expired and unwanted medicines at no cost to consumers, and pharmaceutical wholesalers provide support by providing delivery and collection of RUM Project containers, to and from pharmacies.

This helps prevent medicines being disposed of inappropriately e.g. flushed down the toilet or sink, or thrown out with household garbage.

In 2015-16 pharmacists collected well over 700,000kg of unwanted medicines, which was an increase of 7.7% from 2014-15 collections. During the financial year almost 150,000 RUM bins were delivered to community pharmacies by pharmacy wholesalers around Australia. Of the RUM bins collected, 30% were from pharmacies in NSW, while 25% came from community pharmacies in Victoria. All states and territories contribute to the total number of RUM bins collected by the wholesalers, with ACT and NT providing just 1% each.

RUM collection data from 2001 – 2016 can be found here.

National Return and Disposal of Unwanted Medicines Project Audit 2016

The National Return and Disposal of Unwanted Medicines Project Audit 2016 was conducted by Griffith University and funded by RUM and Australian Government Department of Health. The research consisted of two stages, and was conducted from June to October 2016. The first stage involved an audit of a sample of returned medicines containers from all Australian states and territories. The second stage involved a two-step general population audit that consisted of a survey to assess awareness of the NatRUM scheme, and the risks associated with the improper disposal of unwanted medicines and accumulation of medicines, and structured interviews with higher medication uses to identify perceptions and behaviours surrounding the disposal of unwanted medicines.

To view the full audit report, click here.
To view a summary of the audit report’s key findings, click here.

See the Collection Protocol

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Over the years of the Return Unwanted Medicines (RUM) Project, some manufacturer companies have provided sponsorship support. We look to introducing a regular sponsorship facility in the future. The RUM Project is registered with the Australian taxation office as a Deductable Gift Recipient (DGR).

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