Think before you order: do you still need that medication?

Think before you order: do you still need that medication?

Patients in the UK are wasting an estimated £300 million of unused medication a year which could be used to pay for life saving healthcare.

The large figure has led doctors across West Lancashire to encourage local patients to think about whether they need the medication that they’re ordering.

The money wasted on unused medication across the UK could be used to treat and care for other patients, and pay for one of the following :

• 11,778 more community nurses or
• 80,906 more hip replacements or
• 19,799 more drug treatment courses for breast cancer or
• 300,000 more drug treatment courses for Alzheimer’s or
• 312,175 more cataract operations

The waste comes mainly though prescription medicines which are ordered by patients but are not taken, usually because they have stopped using that particular medicine or have ordered it without thinking when getting other repeat prescriptions.

If you are not taking your medication, for whatever reason, you should talk to your pharmacist or doctor about it. Your prescriber may be able to safely stop a medication or consider an alternative.

Dr Ros Bonsor, a local GP in Ormskirk and board member of NHS West Lancashire Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG), said:

“Sometimes people order everything on their repeat prescriptions when they may not need to, especially any ‘as required’ medications. We want people to think about what they’re ordering and consider whether they really need it; that £300 million is normally left at the back of the cupboard in the kitchen or bathroom.

“We want people to have a regular discussion with their pharmacist, prescribing doctor or nurse to review what they’re taking. By only ordering what you actually need, you’ll be helping your local NHS to direct money at vital healthcare services. Dispensed medicines cannot be recycled even if the packet has not been opened.”

As part of the focus on wasted medicines, NHS West Lancashire CCG will be creating posters to help remind patients to think about what they are ordering. These will be displayed in GP practices, community centres and many other public places.