Return old antibiotics! For your health and the environment.

Antibiotics Return Campaign 18–30 November 2019

The effectiveness of antibiotics for humans and animals is at risk around the world, as the excessive or improper use of antibiotics can lead to bacteria becoming resistant. To prevent antibiotics from being used at the wrong time or ending up in the environment, it is important to return antibiotics that you no longer need.

How you can help to reduce antibiotic resistance:

  • Take the exact dose prescribed by the doctor and for the directed length of time.
  • Never share your antibiotics with other people.
  • Always return partially used packs.
  • Remember that taking antibiotics incorrectly can lead to antibiotic-resistant bacteria.

Why is there an Antibiotics Return Campaign?

By returning old antibiotics, everyone can help reduce the risk of resistant bacteria. The Switzerland-wide Antibiotics Return Campaign is being launched to coincide with the World Antibiotics Awareness Week. People are being invited to return surplus antibiotics to where they were issued. If they come from the pharmacy, they should go back to the pharmacy. If they were issued by a doctor, dentist or vet, they should be taken back there.

This helps avoid the improper use of antibiotics by preventing them being used for other diseases or passed on to others.

Why shouldn’t antibiotics be disposed of in household waste, toilets or washbasins?

In Switzerland, out-of-date or unused medicines are classified as hazardous waste and may not be disposed of with normal household waste or via wastewater.

There is always a risk that a rubbish sack could tear open, releasing antibiotics into the environment or into the groundwater. And there is a risk that children or animals may come into contact with the medication. Antibiotics must not be flushed down the toilet or poured down the drain either, because if they escape into the environment it can lead to more bacteria becoming resistant.

Where exactly should I return old antibiotics to?

The specific procedures of hazardous waste disposal vary from one canton to the next. Old antibiotics can always be returned to where they were issued (pharmacy/doctor/vet).

If the pharmacy or your doctor’s, dentist’s or veterinary practice does not take back the medication, please contact the waste disposal centre in the canton or municipality where you live to find a local collection point that accepts hazardous chemical waste and medication. Cantonal offices for environmental protection: Waste

Antibiotics: Use wisely, take precisely.

More information on antibiotic resistance:

Newsletter Swiss Strategy on Antibiotic Resistance (StAR)

StAR publishes an electronic newsletter that regularly informs interested people about the status of the implementation of the StAR strategy.

Subscribe here to the StAR newsletter.

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