Helping tackle medicine waste

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PEOPLE throughout Tayside are being asked to think before they order repeat prescriptions to reduce the amount of wasted medication during Medicines Waste Awareness Week (October 24 to 30).

A week-long roadshow to support the campaign will make its first stop at Ninewells where pharmacy staff and volunteers will be on hand to give information on how to dispose of unwanted medication properly and advice on only ordering what you actually need from repeat prescriptions.

During the week, the roadshow will visit Perth Royal Infirmary, Whitehills Health and Community Care Centre Forfar, Tesco Riverside Dundee and Asda Kirkton Dundee.

Unused medicines cost the NHS millions of pounds every year.

Around £100 million in wasted medicine is returned to pharmacies for safe disposal annually in Scotland. The annual budget for prescribed medicines in NHS Tayside is £100 million and medicines waste currently accounts for over £3.5 million of this.

This could pay for an additional 940 hip replacements, 230 drug course treatments for breast cancer, 3500 drug course treatments for dementia or 137 community nurses.

Medicines waste is a serious and growing problem for NHS Tayside. Sometimes patients or carers order repeat prescriptions they don’t really need and stockpile them at home.

This can lead to huge amounts of medicines being wasted.

Dr Michelle Watts, NHS Tayside associate medical director for primary care, said, “Medicines waste is a serious and growing problem for NHS Tayside. Sometimes patients or carers order repeat prescriptions they don’t really need and stockpile them at home. This can lead to huge amounts of medicines being wasted.

“Having a medicines review with your GP will also help to make sure you are still receiving the most appropriate medication for their condition. You should also let your GP or your pharmacist know if you have stopped taking any of your medication for any reason.”

Unused medicines cannot be recycled. Once medicines have left the pharmacy they cannot be re-used and must be incinerated, even if they are unopened. Unused medicines are also a safety risk at home for children and others who may take them and they should be brought to the pharmacy for safe disposal.