Health experts say they want to encourage the public use their medicines wisely... and that means reminding of the cost of wasted or unused prescriptions.
It is estimated that nationally the NHS spends £300m on wasted pharmaceuticals, which could instead provide:
• 19,799 more drug treatment courses for breast cancer
• 11,778 more community nurses
• 101,351 more knee replacements
• 300,000 more drug treatment courses for Alzheimer’s
To help combat the wastage local Clinical Commissioning Groups, (CCGs), will be campaigning to help encourage the public to become more conscientious about their medication.
The campaign will includes the use of social media and posters, as well as the distribution of 90,000 campaign bags to dispense medication in pharmacies.
Clare Moss, the CCGs’ Head of Medicines Optimisation, said:“When you look at the statistics, they really hit home... We really can make a big difference just by being a bit savvier with our medicines.”
She continued: “Some small changes to people’s habits could go on to make a huge impact on the £6m spent on wasted medicines each year.
“A simple, but effective thing to do is to regularly check your medicine cabinet, especially those on repeat prescriptions, to see the shelf-life of the medication you already have.
“Ask yourself whether you’re unintentionally stockpiling your medicines or whether you can get them later down the line when you’re beginning to run out. If they’re sat there gathering dust, they could have gone to somebody else who would be using them now – you can always get some more on your prescription when you need them.”
The CCGSs say some of the main reasons that medicines go to waste include:
• Patient non-adherence – intentionally or unintentionally failing to follow instructions for usage
• Stockpiling/over-ordering – patients habitually ordering medication on repeat prescription regardless of need due to fear of losing the prescription through non-use
• Patient recovery – if a patient recovers or their condition changes requiring a change in medication, remaining medication is wasted
• Incorrect disposal – disposal of medication regardless of shelf-life
• Incorrect storage – some medicines are perishable if stored incorrectly – for example, in direct sunlight or unrefrigerated.
Some medicines are cheaper to buy than get on prescription .
The public is advised to contact local pharmacists for advice on how to get the best out of their medication. Pharmacists offer free Medicine Use Reviews to help members of the public to review their current medication with the help of their local pharmacist.
Pharmacies also offer a free-of-charge medicine disposal service, which allows medicines to be disposed of with correct or special handling, should it be required.