Waste Medication Wastes Money…

We estimate that medication which is collected from a pharmacist but not actually needed or simply goes unused, is potentially costing the local NHS £1.3 million per year.

Furthermore an estimated four per cent of prescription medication is never taken. This can be for one of several reasons, from patients simply forgetting or refusing to take it, or not knowing the correct dosage. In some cases the wasted medication has been delivered as part of a repeat prescription ordering service and is actually no longer needed so goes unused.

When the cost of prescribing is taken into account this unused medication equates to a frightening amount of money wasted.

Some medications cost the NHS significantly more to prescribe than they would to buy over the counter. Each prescription costs around £8 in administration fees to process the prescription plus the cost of the drug to the NHS.

For example, the NHS is charged £2.31 for a prescription of paracetamol tablets. Add the prescribing and dispensing costs to this and the total amount the NHS pays per prescription for paracetamol is £10.31. But, paracetamol can actually be bought over the counter for less than £1.

Nationally, a Department of Health report suggests the cost to the NHS of such wastage amounts to £300 million per year.

Jane Dickson, Practice Pharmacist and Anne Bagot-Moore, Practice Manager, with a selection of the medication collected during the three month amnesty.

Jane Dickson, Practice Pharmacist and Anne Bagot-Moore, Practice Manager, with a selection of the medication collected during the three month amnesty.

A medication amnesty staged by a Blackpool GP practice has highlighted the vast and costly amount of waste which occurs.

St Paul’s Medical Centre on Dickson Road held an amnesty offering patients the chance to drop off any unwanted medication for it to be disposed of properly. They were shocked by how much was returned.

The medicine collected during the three month amnesty at this one practice alone equates to an NHS bill of £7,200 (not including the administration fee of processing the prescription) – that’s £28,800 per year. St Pauls is one of 21 GP practices in the town.

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To Put It In To Perspective

With £1.3 Million the NHS could pay for…

  • 51 more community nurses
  • 348 more hip replacements
  • 85 more treatment courses for breast cancer
  • 1,381 more cataract operations
  • 490 more knee replacements
  • 5,777 bed days in hospital (based on a bed day cost of £225)
  • 40,625 walking frames
  • 72,222 GP appointments (based on a 10 minute appointment costing £18)

What Can We do?MPROS web

We are aiming to support high quality prescribing procedures which includes, where appropriate, encouraging the direct ordering of repeat prescriptions from the GP.

We also want to place more control in the hands of the patient so they can be sure they are getting the right medication.

We have recently completed a survey on Managed Repeat Prescription Ordering Services and are looking to work with GP practices to encourage some patients order repeat prescriptions directly from the GP rather than through a service offered by many pharmacists.

More information on this can be found here.


What Can You Do?

We also need people to take more responsibility for their medication when collecting prescriptions

The CCG is asking patients who receive repeat prescriptions to regularly check their medication list to ensure it is up to date and for everyone to think about when it may be more appropriate to purchase medication over the counter.

For more on this issue have a look at this national campaign website.