Misusing Medicine Costing £20 million

20 February 2012, 05:00 | Updated: 20 February 2012, 15:25

NHS managers have told Heart £20 million is being wasted across the Thames Valley and Hampshire every year by medicine not being used properly.

The potential money wasted every year on unused or partially used medication could pay for:

  • 785 nurses
  • 20,000 more treatment courses for Alzheimer's
  • 1,319 more treatment courses for breast cancer
  • 5,393 more hip replacements
  • 20,811 more cataract operations

One of the main reasons is thought to be people collecting repeat prescriptions when they are not needed.

It's estimated there is £90 million worth of unused prescriptions in UK homes at any one time.

Steve Fairman, Director of Improvement and Efficiency for NHS South of England, 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 medicines in the home may mean that patients are not getting the benefit they could 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.

He added;"Any other medicines can be dispensed when needed at a later date, as once medicines have been dispensed, they cannot be recycled."

Dr John Galuszka, a GP from Bicester’s Victoria House Surgery, said:

"There are a number of reasons why medicines are going to waste; including people no longer taking or using the drugs. Others may 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 the pharmacy for safe disposal and have a chat with the pharmacist  about their medicines on how to use them more effectively."

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