Wasted medicine

DID you know that over £3m is wasted on medicine in Cambridgeshire every year? This money could pay for;

* 862 hip replacements

* 1,081 knee replacements

* 125 community nurses

* 211 drug treatment courses for breast cancer

* 3,200 more drug treatment courses for Alzheimer’s

A campaign aimed at reducing medicine waste has been launched, which will raise awareness of how to correctly order repeat prescriptions. It will also help ensure that people get the best from their medicines.

GPs and pharmacists across Cambridgeshire have joined forces to help patients understand more about their medication and the options they have.

One of the main areas where money is wasted is repeat prescriptions, which are ordered and collected by patients but are not used. It is estimated that £90 million worth of unused prescription medicines are retained in people’s homes, across the UK.

Forty to 50% of patients do not take or use their medicines as prescribed. This can occur for a number of reasons, including:

* patients not believing the medicine is necessary;

* possible side effects;

* fitting taking or using medicines into daily routines;

* choosing between medicines if patients’ feel they are taking too many, and;

* cutting down or stopping medicines they have been taking for a long time.

The campaign will include bus advertising together with posters and leaflets that will be displayed in pharmacies and GP practices to raise awareness of medicine waste among both patients and carers.

Kelvin Rowland-Jones Principal Pharmacist at NHS Cambridgeshire said:

“Everyone involved in prescribing, dispensing or reviewing medicines needs to make sure that patients are involved in making decisions about their treatment and that more medicines are taken as recommended.

Unwanted medication in the home may mean that patients are not getting the benefit they could be from their medicines. It also represents a large amount of waste. We want patients on repeat prescriptions to think about what they are ordering and only ask for what they need and are running out of. Any other medicines can be dispensed when needed at a later date, as once medicines have been dispensed, they cannot be recycled.

There are a number of reasons why medicines are going to waste, including people no longer taking or using the drugs, but others may also be put at risk if unwanted medicines are left in the home.

If anyone has any unused medicines at home we’re encouraging them to take them back to their local pharmacy for safe disposal - and have a chat with the pharmacist or prescribing GP about their medicines on how to use them more effectively.

The campaign will encourage patients to have regular reviews of their medicines with their pharmacist or prescribing doctor to discuss any issues they may have with taking their medication.”

Anyone with unwanted medicines can return them to their local pharmacy where they will be disposed of safely.”