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CCGs launch campaign to combat estimated £6m of pharmaceutical waste

With an estimated £6m a year spent in Chorley, South Ribble and Greater Preston on wasted medicines, a new campaign is being launched to encourage the public use their medicines wisely.

As it stands, the CCGs estimate that up to 10% of their annual medicines budget is spent on medication that is being wasted. Whilst nationally, it is estimated that the NHS spends £300m annually on wasted pharmaceuticals, which could instead provide:

  • 19,799 more drug treatment courses for breast cancer
  • 11,778 more community nurses
  • 101,351 more knee replacements
  • 300,000 more drug treatment courses for Alzheimer’s

To help combat the wastage, the Clinical Commissioning Groups will be campaigning to help encourage the public to become more conscientious about their medication. The campaign includes the usage of social media and posters, as well as the distribution of 90,000 campaign bags used to dispense medication in pharmacies.

Some of the main reasons that medicines go to waste include:

  • Patient non-adherence – intentionally or unintentionally failing to follow instructions for usage
  • Stockpiling/over-ordering – patients habitually ordering medication on repeat prescription regardless of need due to fear of losing the prescription through non-use
  • Patient recovery – if a patient recovers or their condition changes requiring a change in medication, remaining medication is wasted
  • Incorrect disposal – disposal of medication regardless of shelf-life
  • Ordering, rather than purchasing – patients getting medication on prescription when it is often cheaper to buy.
  • Incorrect storage – some medicines are perishable if stored incorrectly – for example, in direct sunlight or unrefrigerated.

By fully utilising local pharmacists, the public can help to make a big difference.

Local pharmacists are a highly qualified expert in medicines and can offer the best advice on how the public can get the best out of their medication, as well as advice on treating minor injuries and ailments.

They also offer free Medicine Use Reviews, a service offered to help members of the public review their current medication with the help of their local pharmacist. It simply involves a meeting between patient and pharmacist.

Every pharmacy also offers a free-of-charge medicine disposal service, which allows medicines to be disposed of with correct or special handling, should it be required.

Clare Moss, the CCGs’ Head of Medicines Optimisation said:

“When you look at the statistics, they really hit home. Almost 20,000 more drug treatments for breast cancer or almost 12,000 more community nurses – we really can make a big difference just by being a bit savvier with our medicines.

“Some small changes to people’s habits could go on to make a huge impact on the £6m spent on wasted medicines each year.

“A simple, but effective thing to do is to regularly check your medicine cabinet, especially those on repeat prescriptions, to see the shelf-life of the medication you already have.

“Ask yourself whether you’re unintentionally stockpiling your medicines or whether you can get them later down the line when you’re beginning to run out. If they’re sat there gathering dust, they could have gone to somebody else who would be using them now – you can always get some more on your prescription when you need them.”

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