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Help reduce medicines waste

Major campaign launched to reduce medicine waste that could save millions

A campaign aimed at reducing unnecessary waste launches in March 2013, across Barnsley.   We estimate that an incredible £1.7million is lost each year in Barnsley through medicines waste alone.   The campaign calls upon patients, GPs and pharmacists to review the use of medicines.  

Patients are being asked to:

  • Only order what they need
  • Discuss their medicine requirements with their GP and pharmacist
  • Take their medicines with them when they go into hospital
  • Return their unwanted medicines to their pharmacy for safe disposal  

Dr Mehrban Ghani, Medical Director said: “One of the biggest problems is repeat prescriptions, which are ordered and collected by patients but then not used. Even if you never open them, dispensed medicines cannot be recycled or used for anyone else. “  

“Unused medicines in the home may mean that patients are not getting the benefit they could from their prescriptions. It also represents a large amount of waste.”  

It is estimated that at any one time £90 million worth of unused prescription medicines are being retained in individual’s homes across the UK. With a few simple considerations, patients could help save the NHS millions each year.  

Dr Ghani said: “Wasted medicine is everyone's responsibility and there are small changes you can make to help reduce the amount of medicine being wasted. These savings could be reinvested into more front line care and services for the benefit of all.”  

“We are encouraging patients on repeat prescriptions to think about what they are ordering and only ask for what they need and are running out of. Any of the medicines can be dispensed when needed at a later date, as once medicines have been dispensed, they cannot be recycled.”  

“In addition, everyone involved in prescribing, dispensing or reviewing medicines have a responsibility to make sure that patients are involved in making decisions about their treatment and that more medicines are taken as recommended.”  

Around half of the UK population 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 the taking or using medicines into daily routines
  • Choosing between medicines if patients’ feel they are taking too many
  • Cutting down or stopping medicines they have been taking for a long time  

Health professionals across the borough have joined forces in a bid to inform patients about their treatment and to help people understand more about their medicines and the options they have.   Posters and leaflets will be displayed in pharmacies and GP practices to raise awareness of medicine waste among both patients and carers.