Wasted medicines ‘a burden to the Health Service’

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Wednesday, September 30th, 2015
Every year, 39 million prescription items are issued in Northern Ireland. About 72 tonnes of these medicines, with an estimated value of £6.46m, are returned to community pharmacies as waste. Waste_MedicationThese medicines then cost the Health Service a further £400,000 to dispose of. At the launch of a campaign to reduce medicine waste, Chairman of the Health and Social Care Board (HSCB), Dr Ian Clements said, “Over-ordering and over-prescribing of medicines leads to an estimated £18m of wasted medicines each year. “If we – patients, members of the public and professionals, all worked together and tried to reduce the amount of wasted medicines, the money saved could be used to fund other vital health services such as more doctors and nurses, or new treatments.” The campaign will encourage people to only order medicines which they need, review their existing prescriptions with their doctors or pharmacists and not to stockpile medication. Dr Turlough Hamill, Pharmacist, Hamill’s Pharmacy, Portadown said, “Medicines often have a short shelf life and for safety reasons, unused medicines which are returned to pharmacies have to be destroyed. “They cannot be reused. It is very important that prescribed medicines are taken as directed by the prescriber. If a patient cannot take their medicine, they should talk to their GP or pharmacist.” In the last year, over 27,000 patients in Northern Ireland had their medication reviewed in community pharmacies and received advice on how to use their medicine more effectively and reduce waste. Medication-related issues were identified in 60% of these reviews and 11% of these patients were referred to their GP or other healthcare professional as a result.
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