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Practice managers in Cumbria tackle wasted medication problem

11 December 2007

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The national health service in Cumbria is losing £2m a year because medication is being wasted by patients, it has emerged.

People who order repeat prescriptions they do not need are being blamed for contributing to the problem.

Cumbria Primary Care Trust (PCT) is now formulating plans for an awareness campaign to highlight the problem.

And practice managers in west Cumbria are also among groups who are now meeting regularly to discuss the situation and identify ways of helping the NHS save money.

The amount of money wasted is the equivalent of 636 cataract operations, 61 heart bypass operations, or 89 hip replacements.

A PCT spokesman said: “£2m worth of drugs are wasted every year in Cumbria. Many are prescriptions that people have on repeat that they do not need any more but they still pick them up and store them.

“We are trying to target those people and want to raise awareness with them to get them to order only what they need.”

The £2m figure is an increase on 2004, when it was revealed that £500,000 was wasted by patients hoarding unused pills.

Earlier this year, the National Audit Office (NAO) said that unused or wasted drugs cost the NHS across the country around £100m a year.

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Cumbria Primary Care Trust