BEIJING, April 9 -- Most Chinese families do not regularly sort out their medical kits, with out-of-date pills in many homes, the People's Daily reported on Wednesday.
Each family on average has 215 expired pills and 30 to 40 percent of these tablets have been out-of-date for over three years, the Communist Party of China's newspaper said, quoting a survey released by Guangzhou Baiyunshan Pharmaceutical Holdings Co. Ltd.
Out-of-date drugs may have lost medical effect and even harm the human body. They also pose a threat to the environment if thrown away arbitrarily, Liu Renhuai, an academic with the China Academy of Engineering, told the daily.
"The consequences would be terrible if expired pills got into the hands of illegal drug traffickers and re-enter the market," Liu was quoted as saying.
In China, expired drugs are listed as "dangerous waste" and a serious source of environmental pollution.
According to the survey, 15,000 tonnes of drugs become waste each year after expiration.
China has rules and laws on drug production, sale and use, but a system for regular recycling of out-of-date medication has yet to be established. Also, public awareness regarding the issue is poor.
Wang Min, a legislator who works in this area, said that 73.4 percent of people throw expired tablets into bins, and less than 20 percent will dispose of pills in a proper manner such as send them to special wasteyards or drug management authorities.
Eighty percent of drug products are from hospitals, according to Wang. "Only 20 percent are on sale in pharmacies."