A report by the Department of Health estimates that unused medicines cost the NHS around £300 million every year, with an estimated £110 million worth of medicine returned to pharmacies, £90 million worth of unused prescriptions being stored in homes and £50 million worth of medicines disposed of by Care Homes.
These startling figures don't even take into account the cost to patients' health if medicines are not being correctly taken. If medicine is left unused, this could lead to worsening symptoms and extra treatments that could have been avoided.
How Can You Help?
There are a number of ways that you can help to reduce the issue of wasted medicines and save money for your local NHS.
Only order the medicines that you need
- Please let your GP or Pharmacist know if you’ve stopped taking any of your medicines
- Check what medicines you still have at home before re-ordering
- Discuss your medication with your GP or Pharmacist on a regular basis
- Think carefully before ticking all the boxes on your repeat prescription forms and only tick those you really need
- If you don’t need the medicine please don’t order it! If you need the medicine in the future you can still request it.
- If you need to go into hospital, please remember to take all your medicines with you in a clearly marked bag.
- Please also remember that your medicines are prescribed only for you; it’s not safe to share them with anyone else.
Remember that unused medicines cannot be recycled
- Even if you never open them, once medicines have left the Pharmacy, they cannot be recycled or used by anyone else.
- Please take your unused medicines to the Pharmacy for safe disposal.
- NEVER dispose of your unused or unwanted medicines down the toilet
Unused medicines are a safety risk
- Return out of date medicines to your pharmacy or dispensary for safe disposal
- If your medicines change - return your old medicines to the pharmacy for safe disposal to avoid mixing them up with your new medicines
- Don't stockpile medication - it is a safety risk for children and others who might take them
- Store medicines in an appropriate place out of reach of children