Norfolk wastes �5m in unused drugs

People in Norfolk are wasting nearly �5m a year on unused medicines says a campaign trying to stop patients ordering more repeat drugs than they need.

And a Sheringham pharmacy is taking part in a bid to find the nation's oldest unused medicine in another drive to highlight the problem.

Unused medicines cost the NHS more than �300m a year nationally, enough to pay for 120 new cancer units.

In Norfolk the figure is �4.8m which is the equivalent of 1,294 hip replacements, 4,800 drug treatment courses for Alzheimer's, 1,621 knee replacements, 316 breast cancer drug courses or 188 more community nurses.

NHS Norfolk deputy head of prescribing and medicine management Ian Small said: 'This wastes millions of pounds, and huge quantities of medicines.'

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Out of date prescription drugs no longer provided effective treatment and could even be dangerous,

The Medicine Waste campaign launched this week seeks to tackle a serious and growing problem made worse by patients or their carers asking for more repeat medicines than they need and stockpiling them.

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Norfolk patients waste �1 in every �23 spent on prescribed medicines. The biggest problems are with preventative drugs for high blood pressure, osteoporosis, asthma inhalers, anti-depressants and painkillers.

NHS Norfolk is encouraging patients to only order what they need and think carefully about repeat presciptions.

Mr Small said: 'We would like patients to check what they have in their cupboards before ordering all the items on their repeat prescriptions.'

They should also regularly discuss medication with their GP or pharmacist, and let them know if they have stopped taking any of their drugs, and, if they go to hospital, take current medicines with them.

Lloyds Pharmacy's hunt for the UK's oldest medicine sees them offering healthcare vouchers as rewards for people bringing in expired and unused drugs. The month-long March amnesty is aimed at safe disposal of old medicines. And the owner of the oldest 10 across the country will win �100 health care hampers.

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