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Medicines Waste


Report of research undertaken in 2009 by the York Health Economics Consortium and the School of Pharmacy, University of London, indicate that the gross annual cost of NHS primary and community care prescription medicines wastage in England is currently in the order of £300 million per year.

This sum represents approximately £1 in every £25 spent on primary care and community pharmaceutical and allied products use, and 0.3 per cent of total NHS outlays. It includes an estimated:

  • £90 million worth of unused prescription medicines that are retained in individuals’ homes at any one time
  • £110 million returned to community pharmacies over the course of a year
  • £50 million worth of NHS supplied medicines that are disposed of unused by care homes 1.

GP Practice Waste Campaign

The aims of a waste campaign should be to:

  • Highlight the issues around medicines waste to patients
  • Encourage and support patients to make better use of prescription medicines
  • Reduce the amount of unused/partially used medicines
  • Reduce the inappropriate over ordering/prescribing of prescription medicines
  • Improve the quality of repeat prescribing systems

Resources for Practices

To support practices with medicines waste, the medicines management team have put together a list of resources and suggestions. Practices are free to use the following resources to update or supplement existing materials.


Patient leaflets

Messages on repeat prescriptions



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