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‘What a waste!’ - £5.5m spent on unused medicines

PUBLISHED: 06:30 21 April 2014

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REPRESENTATIVES of patients at the Sid Valley’s GP practice have expressed their shock that as much as £5.5million is wasted each year in Devon on unused medicines.

Di Fuller, who is chairman of the Sid Valley Patient Participation Group, says the amount could pay for around 730 heart bypass operations, 1,000 hip replacements, 2,235 knee replacements or 10,720 cataract operations.

“We all worry about the number of cuts being made to health service provision and perhaps wonder about levels of waste, but believe that there is little that we can do about it,” she said.

“This above data was published last year and a large proportion of it is wastage that we as patients can do something about with the local chemists that dispense our prescriptions. Many repeat prescriptions are ordered and dispensed when no longer being taken by the patient. If these surplus medicines are returned to the pharmacy, they cannot be re-used once they have left the pharmacy counter. All of the chemists in the Sid Valley have to get rid of loads of unwanted medicines every week.”

Di says residents can help by:

l Checking supplies and only ordering the items that you need;

l Ticking only the medicines you need on the counterfoil of your prescription;

l Telling your doctor, nurse or pharmacist if your medicines are not agreeing with you or you have stopped taking them;

l Opening your bag of medication before you leave the pharmacy counter. If you have item(s) not requested, or surplus to your needs, please return these before leaving;

l Listening to the advice from your doctor, nurse or pharmacist and take all medicines as instructed on the label. Tell your doctor if you stop taking medication.

“It would also help if all of the pharmacies reminded customers to check their medication before leaving the store. Together we may be able to stop some of this shocking waste,” added Di.

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