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Warning over prescriptions 'waste'


Pharmacy chiefs have issued a warning over “huge” amounts of medicines being wasted as it emerged prescriptions have leapt 70% in the past decade.

In 2010, there were 927 million prescription items dispensed across England - a 68% rise on 2000, costing as much as £8.83bn. This compares with a 4.6% rise on 2009 levels. For every person in England, the average cost per head was £169 in 2010, compared with £113 11 years ago and £165 in 2009.

Cardiovascular drugs treating high blood pressure and heart failure made up the highest number of prescriptions, with the most expensive items being used to treat people with central nervous system disorders or diabetes.

In the wake of the figures from the NHS Information Centre, Mike Holden, chief executive of the National Pharmacy Association, said: “There is a huge amount of waste. Up to half of all medicines for long-term conditions are not taken as intended by the prescriber.

“There is no doubt that much more value for patients and the taxpayer could be extracted from this massive investment by supporting more effective medicines use.”


Readers' comments (3)

  • When will the government or whoever consider allowing people to take medication back to the pharmacy for it to be re issued. I know there is the possible implication for safety but this would save millions.

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  • Thanks for that -I did not realise that when unwanted medication (when taken back to pharmacy) is not then reused - I assume it is just safely disposed of ? what an appalling waste.

    I live in Wales, where prescriptions are free - (something I actually do not agree with) can you imagine the cost and waste implications - probably even worse than England - complete madness!!

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  • i took a brand new unopened packet of brufen back to boots within half an hour of purchase as I discovered it was almost half the price in sainbury's supermarket, who now sell over the counter drugs!

    I was told that they had to throw it away as they could not put the packet back on the shelves for health and safety reasons and they were not allowed to send it on to the developing countries where there is a shortage of medication! I got my refund but had to insist and then felt rather uneasy about that but then dispelled my guilt over boots losing what was probably to them a very small amount of money. after all why should they be selling the same drug at almost twice the price for the same product, same make, same packaging?

    This is just one small example, but I appreciate there would be health and safety issues concerned with recycling drugs from packaging which had been opened.

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