Patients in Norfolk could help save the NHS millions of pounds by only ordering the drugs they need, the Four Clinical Commissioning Groups (CCG) in Norfolk has said.
Almost £5m is lost every year in Norfolk through unused prescription medicines, according to the group, which is calling on patients to only order the drugs they need and to return any unwanted medicines to their pharmacy for safe disposal
An estimated £4.9m is lost every year through medicine wastage in Norwich, North Norfolk, West Norfolk and South Norfolk, according to the Norfolk CCG.
Repeat prescriptions is one of the biggest problems, according to the group, which are not always used.
Medicines waste is a significant issue, equating to £300m in primary care alone across the UK, about half of which is avoidable.
Chris Ball, Hurn Chemist, Norwich – “We want patients on repeat prescriptions to think about what they are ordering and only ask for what they need and are running out of”
Ian Small, deputy head of medicines management for Norfolk, said: “Often, everything is automatically ordered by carers or community pharmacists on behalf of patients without checking that they need it.
“Unused medicines in the home may mean that patients are not getting the benefit they could from their prescriptions.
“With a few simple considerations, patients could help save the NHS millions each year,” he said.
An estimated £90m worth of surplus prescription medicines sits unused across the UK, according to the group.
Chris Ball, a pharmacist at Hurn Chemist in Norwich, said: “We want patients on repeat prescriptions to think about what they are ordering and only ask for what they need and are running out of.
“Any of the medicines can be dispensed when needed at a later date, as once medicines have been dispensed, they cannot be recycled.
“In addition, everyone involved in prescribing, dispensing or reviewing medicines has a responsibility to make sure that patients are involved in making decisions about their treatment and that more medicines are taken as recommended.”
The urge comes after NHS England launched plans to encourage CCGs and Trusts to think more about how well their patients are supported to use medicine and less about focusing on cost and volume of drugs in hopes the scheme will help cut avoidable medicine waste.
The prototype Medicines Optimisation Prototype Dashboard was introduced to bring together data in one place. It includes prescribing comparators, as well as looking at areas such as medication safety and utilisation of community pharmacy services.
Clare Howard, deputy chief pharmaceutical officer for NHS England, said: “Medicines optimisation is about ensuring that the right patients get the right choice of medicine, at the right time. It is important for the patient, the prescriber, the NHS and the taxpayer that the patient derives the greatest benefit that medicines have to offer.”
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.
Last year The Royal Pharmaceutical College (RPS) urged 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.