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Thursday 22nd August 2019

Unused medication a huge cost to NHS

4th July 2012

Unused medication returned to pharmacists could be costing the NHS as much as £150 million a year.


Drugs returned to the chemist cannot be re-used and is incinerated rather than re-dispensed
The NHS spends £12bn a year in England on medicines, about a tenth of its budget, with £8bn of that spent in primary care.

The figures come at a time that the NHS is having to make £20bn in savings and also with prescriptions having risen by 70% in the last decade from 552 million in 2000 to 927m in 2012.

The National Audit Office has highlighted how drug wastage is a significant cost for the NHS, with scope to improve primary care prescribing.

Jonathan Mason, a Department of Health adviser and until April 2012 national clinical director for primary care and community pharmacy, said greater savings could be made by increasing the number of people taking their medicines properly.

“Studies repeatedly show that one third to one half of prescriptions are not taken as intended. And there are poor outcomes with poor compliance,” he added.

Five % of all emergency admissions are because people do not take their medicines as prescribed – costing the NHS in England £500m.

But it has also emerged that 52% of patients would be prepared to accept reused medicines that had been checked for safety.

However, David Pencheon, director of the NHS sustainable development unit, which commissioned the research, said: “The public tells us they are prepared to take reused medicines but the system doesn't make it easy, and there aren't the incentives.”


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