acute poisoning with medicines in brazil has various causes, including a deficient national drug policy. the current study thus aimed to analyze socioeconomic variables, prescription characteristics, and forms of purchase or acquisition and storing of medicines by victims of acute unintentional poisoning. the data were collected during home visits to patients with a record of acute unintentional drug poisoning according to the poison control center in maringá, paraná state, in 2004. the variables were related to the victim, the poisoning event, the product, and its household storage. for the 97 poisonings recorded during the study period, 72 families were interviewed, with the majority of the victims under 10 years of age (73.6%), males (54.2%), and from lower-income groups (63.9%). many interviewees reported not having received information about the drug (76.5%). there was a significant association between lower-income status and inadequate drug storage (p < 0.05). a larger proportion of poisonings in higher-income families involved expired products (p < 0.05). inadequate acquisition and storage of drugs may thus have facilitated the occurrence of poisonings.