War on waste

MORE than £4million is being wasted each year in Cambridgeshire on medicines that end up being thrown away, according to health chiefs. Patients are being told to rethink their repeat prescriptions and order only the medicines they need to help save money

MORE than £4million is being wasted each year in Cambridgeshire on medicines that end up being thrown away, according to health chiefs.

Patients are being told to rethink their repeat prescriptions and order only the medicines they need to help save money and allow funds to be spent in other areas of health care.

Pharmacists in Huntingdonshire have joined a campaign to save the country millions in wasted medicines.

Top of the list for dumped medicines are asthma inhalers. Cholesterol drugs are next and medicines for osteoporosis treatment third. Pain killers and drugs for depression are also on the list.


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The total medicines budget for the county is £80million and the waste represents five per cent of that, according to Cambridgeshire Primary Care Trust.

Yesterday (Tuesday) pharmacy manager Kevin Wylie at J G Clifford Chemist in The Causeway, Godmanchester, helped to launch the campaign at his shop. Posters and leaflets will be distributed to GP surgeries and pharmacies and inserts have been produced to go into prescription bags.

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The main message for patients is do not to order repeat prescriptions that you do not need. Instead, have regular reviews with a pharmacist or doctor to discuss any issues.

Another focus of the campaign is the danger of having unused medicines at home, especially if there are children there.

Sue Ashwell, chief pharmacist of Cambridgeshire Primary Care Trust, said: "Once medicines have been dispensed, they cannot be recycled and have to be thrown away - whether they have been used or not.

"This is money we could spend on other healthcare. We know that some people will return unwanted medicines but we want to encourage people to ask only for what they need and tell their pharmacist and doctors about medicines they no longer take."

Ms Ashwell said: "We do not want patients to stop taking medicines their doctors have prescribed but we would like them to check what they have in their cupboards and drawers before ordering more."

The campaign will run throughout November and December.

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