The Royal Pharmaceutical College (RPS) has implored doctors to alter how they prescribe medicine so as to reduce the high cost of drug wastage.
The RPS believe that through adopting a tailored approach to medical prescriptions instead of supplying long-term quantities of drugs, and by offering personal advice to each patient based on their individual needs, waste could be significantly reduced.
Vice-chair of the English pharmacy board of the RPS, Ash Soni, also believes that patients should be more sensible in deciding whether they would benefit from a solution that does not require a medical prescription.
He said: “Have a better discussion with your doctor about medicines. We can do something when patients simply haven’t taken the drugs and they’ve continued to be prescribed, or they’re just not appropriate.”
Jan James, Medicine Waste UK – “This is not about apportioning blame to any specific group, it’s about working together so that we can collectively reduce waste”
Mr Soni, who runs a pharmacy in London, says that each month he receives drugs from patients who no longer require them, and that these stocks are worth thousands of pounds. However, he adds: “It all goes to the incinerator; we can’t re-use any of these drugs because we simply don’t know if they’ve been stored correctly. That stuff we have no idea about, and carries risk because it’s disposed in landfill and can leach into our water supply.”
A government report issued at the end of 2012 revealed the high cost of medical waste, and the NHS has since endeavoured to raise awareness by working with Medicine Waste UK. Together they have been running a number of campaigns to encourage people to be more vigilant about the medical supplies they receive and to minimise that which they dispose of.
Managing director of Medicine Waste UK, Jan James, said: “This is not about apportioning blame to any specific group, it’s about working together so that we can collectively reduce waste.”
A statement from the Royal College of GPs has said that many patients need to be made aware of their social responsibility to only obtain a prescription when absolutely necessary. The statement said: “Many patients expect a prescription at the end of their consultation, particularly antibiotics for commons colds and infections that will get better naturally or respond better to other treatments, and this can make it difficult for GPs to prescribe appropriately.
“Prescribing has been designated a clinical priority and we have already produced a wide range of resources, with the Health Protection Agency to support GPs in this area.”