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Waste Medicines Campaign
Major Campaign aims to save millions by reducing wasted medicines
A new campaign to reduce the amount of wasted medicines is launched today [Tuesday, 14 September] by the Welsh Assembly Government.
More than250 tons of out of date, surplus and redundant medicines are returned each year to pharmacies and dispensing GP surgeries across Wales at an estimated cost of £50 million to the NHS. This is in addition to medicines that are probably disposed of incorrectly through household waste.
The campaign includes radio adverts and leaflets distributed by GPs surgeries and pharmacies. Patients receiving prescription medicines will be handed advice such as ensuring they order the right amounts of medicines and do not stockpile drugs.
The Chief Medical Officer for Wales, Dr Tony Jewell, and the NHS Chief Executive, Paul Williams will also be writing to health professionals to highlight the campaign and remind them of the importance to prescribe only what is necessary to help patients manage their condition to avoid wasted medicines.
Unwanted medicines cannot be reused or recycled and all have to be destroyed in an incinerator. The campaign features the case of one patient who returned £2,000 worth of unwanted medicines.
Targeting GPs, pharmacists and patients, the campaign gives clear advice on how to:
prescribe more effectively;
efficiently order repeat prescriptions;
understand the side effects and benefits of each medicine; and,
safely discard old and unused medicines.
A Welsh Assembly Government report published earlier this year, showed that the abolition of prescription charges in Wales in April 2007 has not resulted in a rise in the number of medicines prescribed. This was backed by an independent report by Cardiff University, Bangor University and University of Glamorgan.
Health Minister Edwina Hart said: “Millions of pounds worth of waste medicines are being burnt every year. This is money that could be better spent elsewhere in the NHS.
“Not only is there a significant cost associated with wasted medicines, if people have out-of-date medicines, they are risking their health.
“If we all adhere to the clear and simple guidelines in this campaign and patients only order what they need, and GPs prescribe effectively, the safety and benefits of such medicine management will be felt directly by all in Wales. We all have a duty to play our part in reducing the amount of unnecessary prescribing of medicines. This will ensure that the NHS is able to spend its money in the most effective way.”
Chris Martin, a pharmacist and chair of Hywel Dda Health Board, led a group looking at the use of medicines in Wales and recommended the development of a campaign to highlight wasted medicines.
He said: “We looked at how we could roll out a national scheme based on the pilot work that was successfully undertaken in the Hywel Dda area last year. I am looking forward to the co-operation of my pharmacist colleagues who can really make a difference to help and support people in taking their medication correctly. This will be a collaboration between the professionals and the public, working together to reduce waste in Wales.”
Chairman of GP Committee Wales, Dr David Bailey, said: "We support this campaign and the advice to patients.
“GPs will always have regard to the cost of medicines and the amounts prescribed, although our first concern will always be the best interests of the individual patient."
Mr Russell Goodway, Chief Executive of Community Pharmacy Wales, added:"Community Pharmacy Wales
is pleased to support the Assembly Government in attacking unnecessary NHS overspend on medicines.
"Community Pharmacists deal with waste medicines on a daily basis and are specifically qualified and well placed to help tackle the problem. Patients who are not sure if they need to take all the medicines they have at home can ask their local community pharmacy for a free Medicines Check Up.
"It is not safe to keep medicines at home that are not going to be used or are no longer needed. People should bring any such surplus medicines to their local community pharmacy for safe disposal."
See below CPW press release in support of WAG waste medicines campaign:
Embargo: 00:01 Tuesday, 14 September
Community Pharmacy Wales / Fferylliaeth Gymunedol Cymru
Press Release / Datganiad i’r Wasg
Pharmacists call for action as well as words on problem of wasted medicines
"Every year tens of millions of pounds worth of wasted medicines are returned to community pharmacies across Wales which begs the question whether they should ever have been prescribed in the first place.” This is the point being made by Community Pharmacy Wales (CPW), the body which represents every one of the 700 community pharmacies in Wales.
Russell Goodway, CPW’s Chief Executive said today (Tuesday 14th September) "The £50 million worth of medicines returned to local pharmacies and GP surgeries every year is just the tip of the iceberg of medicines waste. It does not include the value of unused, out-of-date medicines which are stored in household medicines cabinets or which are simply placed in the dustbin or put down the toilet, which is probably as much if not more.”
He added “It is even more worrying if patients really needed these medicines but failed to take them. We know that the failure of patients to properly manage their medicines can have serious medical consequences which results in enormous additional cost to the NHS”
“Everybody knows the actions that need to be taken to reduce the amount of medicines being wasted and to reduce the costs to the NHS arising from medicines not being taken correctly. CPW is eager to work with the Health Minister and her team to change existing costly prescribing practices. In addition to the current advertising and public awareness campaign, we are particularly keen to see Health Boards introduce shorter, more appropriate prescribing periods, more first prescription schemes and repeat dispensing arrangements. This will ensure that every penny of NHS funding is used to improve patient outcomes and secure better frontline patient care."
Mr Goodway explained: "Community Pharmacists deal with wasted medicines on a daily basis and are specifically qualified and well placed to help tackle this problem. Patients who are not sure if they need to take all the medicines they have at home, should ask their local community pharmacist for a free Medicines Check Up."
Meanwhile, immediate advice that is given by CPW is that "It is not safe to keep at home medicines that are not going to be used, are no longer needed or out-of-date. People should bring any surplus medicines to their local community pharmacy for safe disposal."
See the links below for the Waste Medicine Campaign's leaflets and poster:
Waste Medicine Campaign Leaflet
Waste Medicine Campaign Leaflet in Welsh
Waste Medicine Campaign Poster
Pharmacy Service Finder
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