Two clinical commissioning groups (CCGs) in Essex spend millions on medications that are never used.
Patients in NHS Thurrock and NHS Basildon and Brentwood CCGs are being urged to help cut back the £2.5 million spent of wasted medication.
The two CCGs have teamed up to launch the new Waste Not, Want Not campaign, which will address the different issues patients, GPs, pharmacists, care homes and carers face when trying to make the best use of medicines.
The campaign is especially focusing on patients in asking them to check their medicines bag at the pharmacy and take home only what is needed.
In the Thurrock CCG newsletter, Françoise Price, Interim Head of a joint Medicines Optimisation team covering both CCGs, said: “£2.5 million locally is a lot of money to waste and this is the tip of the iceberg as it does not include the cost of disposal and more importantly the health cost to the individual.
“We are not saying people are deliberately wasting their medicine but they may have stopped taking their medication perhaps because they feel well again, have had side effects, have forgotten to take it or simply because they don’t understand the benefits of the medication they have been prescribed.
“We urge people and the families and carers of patients who take prescription medicine not to automatically tick the box on their repeat prescription form but check that they are still using the items.”
The CCG is also urging patients to book a Medicines Use Review – a free NHS service that allows patients to discuss medication issues in private.
Price added: “Patients should make the most of their medication reviews. The reviews are an opportunity for patients to speak openly about their medication and ask any questions or raise any concerns about the medicines they are using.”
Thurrock CCG estimates the cost of unused medication is £300 million annually, with £110 million-worth returned to pharmacies where it is destroyed, £90 million-worth hoarded in pharmacies and £50 million-worth wasted in care homes.
The CCG adds that the money recovered from wasted drugs could pay for 100 community nurses.