Many of you on the site have asked about responsible disposal of medication packaging. Lots of medicines come in plastic packaging with a foil laminate and it’s virtually impossible to recycle.
While I’ve been aware of the packaging issue, I’d never stopped to think of the amount of medicines we waste.
According to the Welsh Assembly Government, more than 250 tons of out of date, surplus and redundant medicines are returned each year to pharmacies and dispensing GP surgeries across Wales at an estimated cost of £50 million to the NHS. This is in addition to medicines that are probably disposed of incorrectly through household waste.
They’re setting up a campaign to ensure patients receiving prescription medicines will be handed advice such as ordering the right amounts of medicines and not stockpiling drugs.
The Chief Medical Officer for Wales, Dr Tony Jewell, and the NHS Chief Executive, Paul Williams will also be writing to health professionals to highlight the campaign and remind them of the importance to prescribe only what is necessary to help patients manage their condition to avoid wasted medicines.
Unwanted medicines cannot be reused or recycled and all have to be destroyed in an incinerator. The campaign features the case of one patient who returned £2,000 worth of unwanted medicines.
Health Minister Edwina Hart said: “Millions of pounds worth of waste medicines are being burnt every year. This is money that could be better spent elsewhere in the NHS.”
The Welsh Assembly Government give the following guidelines to patients:
* Always understand what your medicine is for and how to use it correctly: ask your GP or Pharmacist if you are unsure
* Tell your GP or Pharmacist if you have stopped taking a medicine; this will ensure unwanted medicines are not wasted and help health professionals plan the best treatment for you
* Before ordering a repeat prescription, ask yourself whether you actually need it and whether you intend taking it
* Don’t stock pile medicines: they could go out of date or be taken by a child
* Don’t share your medicines with others or take someone else’s medicines
* Take time to understand the side effects, the benefits and the risks of your medication
* On admission to hospital always take your medicines with you
* Return waste medicines to your local pharmacy or Dispensing GP for safe disposal. Do not dispose of unwanted medicines in household waste or down the toilet.
I’d love to know what you think of the story. Were you aware that so many medicines get incinerated every year?