NHS festive campaign to reduce unused medicines

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NHS Tayside have launched a campaign aimed at encouraging the public to help reduce unused medicines by only ordering those they need over the festive period.

The ‘Let’s Talk Medicines’ campaign encourages people on repeat prescriptions to look again at the medicines they take and speak to their pharmacist or GP if they have any questions or concerns and only order the medication they need. This in turn should reduce the amount of medicines that people keep at home and do not take, or return to their pharmacy for disposal.

Unused medicines cost the NHS in Scotland millions of pounds every year. Audit Scotland has estimated that Scotland’s avoidable drug waste bill is between £12 and £18 million per year. In Tayside this would equate to approximately £1.4 million.

Over the festive period, stocking up on over-the-counter medicines, checking any repeat prescriptions and ordering only what is needed to cover the holidays, can help to avoid or deal with the most common winter ailments. It’s also a good idea to know GP surgery and local pharmacy opening hours over the festive break.

NHS Tayside Director of Pharmacy Frances Rooney said: “Over the festive period we see a huge rise in the amount of medication ordered, as people ensure they are stocked up when GPs and pharmacies are closed.

“People should ensure that they have the right amount of medication to cover this period but they should only be ordering what they need and use.

“Medicines that are no longer required and are wasted are 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.

“Many people may not know that 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 a safety risk at home for children and others who may take them. Unused medicines should be brought to the pharmacy for safe disposal.

“Having a medicines review with your GP will also help to make sure patients 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.”