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Reducing medicine waste

Mark Gregory, Deputy Head of Medicines Management at NHS Gloucestershire Clinical Commissioning Group shares his tips for how to reduce medicine waste:

“We are constantly looking at ways to deliver better and more effective patient care. Having unwanted drugs at home may mean that patients are not getting the benefits they could be from their medicines. It’s also hugely wasteful.

Unused medicines can’t be used again, so it is essential that we work together to tackle this issue. By making improvements, we can make better use of resources and invest in other areas of healthcare that will benefit the local community.

There are a number of reasons why medicines are going to waste, for example patients may no longer need the drugs. Others may also be put at risk if unwanted drugs are left lying around at home, which can be really dangerous significant danger, particularly if there are young children present.

People with repeat prescriptions should only order what they need and ensure they take their medication with them when they go into hospital or on holiday to avoid needing emergency prescriptions. It’s also very helpful to have regular medication reviews to make sure prescriptions are up to date.

People taking long term medications sometimes continue to collect repeat prescriptions even if their medication has been changed or they already have stocks at home. This means they may stockpile large amounts, or hold onto medication that is no longer required.

If anyone has any unused medicines at home we would encourage them to take them back to the pharmacy or GP surgery for safe disposal.

I’d also urge anyone taking regular medication on an ongoing basis to ensure that they have a medication review with their GP at least annually. People should also consider asking their pharmacist for a ‘Medicines Use Review’ and advice about using their medicines effectively over long periods.”

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