Patients costing NHS Nene £4.6m by stockpiling medicine

Wasted prescription drugs cost the equivalent of thousands of cataract operations
Wasted prescription drugs cost the equivalent of thousands of cataract operations

The cost of wasted NHS medicines in Northamptonshire this year could have paid for 600 life-saving heart operations.

The £4.6 million figure is being publicised to coincide with the launch of the Northamptonshire Medicines Waste campaign.

Sue Smith, head of prescribing and medicines management at NHS Nene and NHS Corby, said: “Medicines wastage is a serious problem for the NHS.

“Some patients or carers with repeat prescriptions order more medication than they really need and stockpile them at home. People often continue to order medicines they are no longer taking and do not need.

“All of this wastes millions of pounds. But that cost can be counted in human terms too, given the healthcare that this money could have been spent on, but also the health benefits that people may not be getting because they are not taking their medicines as intended.”

The money could also have been spent on cataract operations for 4,780 people to give them a greater chance at regaining their sight or potentially life-saving breast cancer drug treatments for 304 women.

Mrs Smith said: “Think carefully before ticking all the boxes on your repeat prescription request form and only tick those you really need.

“If your pharmacist or a carer orders your medicines on your behalf, make sure that you tell them to only order what you need.

“If you need the medicine in the future you will still be able to request it. You should let your GP or pharmacist know if you’ve stopped taking any of your medicines or if you have any concerns. If you are going into hospital please take all your medicines with you.”

“Medicines are prescribed to prevent ill health, relieve symptoms or cure serious illnesses. If these are not taken as intended, this is considered a waste because they are not being used for the right reasons.

“If you have any queries or concerns about your medicines you can ask your pharmacist for a Medicines Use Review. The pharmacist will explain what all your medicines are for and answer any questions you may have. Alternatively you can ask your doctor for advice.”