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We must act on wasted drugs

I recently audited waste medicine at our practice (with a list of 6,400). In two weeks, £2,257.32 of medication was returned to the nearby pharmacy.

On the basis that only one-third of medication wasted is returned (as found in a Warwickshire PCT audit) and spreading this over one year, this is £176,000 wasted in one pharmacy in a small village.

How can this waste be reduced? Of course we need increased awareness among doctors, pharmacists and patients, and better communication between secondary and primary care when medications are altered. But how about nominal charges for every item except in exempt illnesses, a limited supply on each prescription (especially when not on a stable dose or new medication is being started) and tighter medication reviews.

Some of these ideas may not be politically viable, but in this time of huge cutbacks, surely we must play our part in making efficiency savings?

From Dr Thomas Groves
Studley, Warwickshire