The department of pharmacology at the University of Cyprus (UCy) is collecting unwanted medicines from the public, assistant medical school professor Nikolas Dietis, said on Friday.

The unwanted medicines – expired or not – are useful for training medical students in laboratory studies, the UCy professor explained.

“The medical school is asking the public to bring expired and unwanted medicines to their labs as the active substances they contain can be used for medical students’ education, and the meds will be disposed of safely following prescribed protocols,” Dietis told the state broadcaster.

The UCy medical school campaign has been ongoing for several years and though the initiative can’t solve the entire problem of disposal, the service can “kill two birds with one stone”, the professor said.

Safe disposal of unwanted medicines has been in the pipelines for years with authorities discussing various approaches for it to be effectively implemented and Parliament having voted unanimously for the creation of a non-profit organisation to take on the task.

“We have a significant problem with contamination of the water table, particularly since we are an island,” Dietis noted.

“Whatever we put into the environment comes back to us. It’s inconceivable to have a system [in place] for inert plastics yet not have one for active substances,” the professor said.

The UCy’s collection service operates daily, and the public can bring partially used and unused medicines to the drop-off point at the Shakolas Educational Centre for Clinical Medicine (Shiakolio-behind the Nicosia hospital and adjacent to Karaiskakio).

Pills and liquid injectables are preferred over vitamins, supplements and ointments.