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Publication Date: 09/04/2010 

Reduce medicine waste campaign aims to save NHS Lanarkshire £2 million every year 


Bus shelter advert for medicine waste 

“We can all play our part in reducing the waste of medicine to help NHS Lanarkshire continue to improve our healthcare services.” 

Medicine wastage costs NHS Lanarkshire almost £2 million every year – but a new campaign aims to reduce this cost.

Dr Philip McMenemy, associate medical director for primary care, says raising awareness of the problem can help stop this waste of medicines and money.

He said: “The biggest problem in medicine waste comes from repeat prescriptions that people no longer need or use.

“This could be for several reasons such as worrying you may run out of medicine or not wanting to tell your GP you’ve stopped taking your medicine.

“But people don’t realise the full consequences of keeping medicines that they are not using. They can discuss their medicines with their GP or pharmacist.

“We want to raise awareness that wasting medicine can have an effect on your health services and to encourage people not to order medicines they don’t need, but to order correct amounts of those medicines they need.”

As part of the campaign Lanarkshire pharmacists and GPs will be distributing information leaflets which people can use to cancel any medicines they no longer use when ordering their repeat prescriptions.

These leaflets can be downloded here: Our Services/Pharmacy/Unused prescriptions.

Posters will also be displayed at pharmacies and GP surgeries.

From April 12 to May 23 bus shelter posters throughout Lanarkshire will display the message “Are you ordering medicine you’re not taking? If so tell your doctor or pharmacist.”

In addition radio adverts – on Radio Clyde, Real Radio and Smooth Radio - will highlight how wasting medicines wastes your health service’s money which could be used for various medicines and operations, including 180 heart bypass operations every year.

Alastair Thorburn, NHS Lanarkshire’s head of prescribing management, said:

“Wastage of medicine is a significant issue but raising awareness of the problem and outlining how it can by reduced will benefit everybody in Lanarkshire as the money can be used in other areas to improve health."

The key messages from the campaign are:

  • Wasting medicines wastes money which could be used for your healthcare services.
  • Only order the medicines you need.
  • Unused medicines cannot be recycled.

“We can all play our part in reducing the waste of medicine to help NHS Lanarkshire continue to improve our healthcare services.”

For more information on how to reduce medical waste call NHS Lanarkshire’s General Enquiry Line on 0300 3030 243.