Safe Disposal of Sharps

Your Guide to Safe Disposal of Sharps

What are sharps and why do we need to dispose of them safely?

Many rheumatology medications are given as injections. These can come in the form of a pen or syringe that need to be disposed of carefully.

All injections or ‘sharps’, can cause potential injuries and so must be handled and disposed of safely to reduce risk of injury to others. This includes all injectable medicines, i.e. pens and syringes, as well as those that have a retractable needle or needle shield.

Please note, low-dose methotrexate used in rheumatology is not considered chemotherapy and can therefore be disposed of as per this guide.

You should always use the device as directed by your healthcare team.

After injecting the medicine, you must immediately throw away the used syringe or pen into a suitable Sharps container. You can obtain these containers from your pharmacy (usually with a fee), sometimes from your healthcare team or local council but most commonly through the pharmaceutical company providing the medication. This is by enrolling in their Patient Support Program. Most companies provide this service and is free of charge, but it will depend on which medicine you are on. Some local councils may also provide containers or disposal provision – please contact them directly.

Please speak to your rheumatologist, rheumatology nurse, pharmacist or healthcare provider for more information.

What is a suitable sharps container?

  • An Australian Standard Sharps container (preferred)
  • A puncture-resistant plastic container with a screw top e.g. a plastic bleach bottle.

Where can I dispose of my sharps?

If your doctor advises that you no longer need to use the medicine or it is out of date, take it to any pharmacy for safe disposal. Also, if you have been advised not to use your injection, please take it to any pharmacy for disposal.

Depending on your State and local council guidelines, there may be different requirements.

For more information see Your Guide to Safe Disposal of Sharps.Source: Australian Rheumatology Association and Arthritis Australia.

Last reviewed August 2022.