Shaun Green, Deputy Director of Clinical Effectiveness and Medicines Management, Somerset Clinical Commissioning Group, said:“Our annual prescribing budget in Somerset is around £80million and we estimate that anywhere between £3 and £5million of that is spent on medication which is unused.
“Medication can be unused for a variety of reasons. Sometimes this is because of unnecessary repeat prescriptions. It can also be as a result of people not taking medicines as prescribed or stopping medication before the course is completed. We know that sometimes people chose to stop medication due to adverse side effects or personal beliefs.
“If people decide not to take their medication for whatever reason it is important that they tell their doctor as knowing this will influence future clinical decisions the doctor may discuss with them.
“Many patients do return unused medication to pharmacies or to their GP surgeries for which we are very grateful. This helps us make sure that medication is disposed of in a safe and secure manner and not put into domestic waste bins or flushed into the sewage system.
“There is also an environment impact when medication is ordered, resulting in extra lorry miles, extra plastic and other packaging, not to mention incineration and landfill.
“We would encourage anyone who may have unused medication at home to return it to a community pharmacy for safe disposal. Keeping unused medication at home can pose a potential risk to children and pets.
“Unfortunately used medication can’t be reissued to other patients for safety issues. To help us reduce waste and keep costs down, we are asking everyone in Somerset who is prescribed medication to:
·Check what medicines you have at home before re-ordering more
·Only order the items you need on your repeat prescription. Don’t worry – all of the medicines will still be available for you to order the next time
·Speak to your doctor, pharmacist or nurse if you are not taking any of your medicines or you are experiencing unwanted side effects
·Open your prescription bag while you are still inside the pharmacy and return any unwanted items to the pharmacist
·Ask for advice from a pharmacist if you need any help taking your medicines.
“We work closely with pharmacies, GP practices and care homes to raise awareness of the issue of unused medication and will continue to do so.”