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Phase 1

Phase 1

Jun - Aug 2016

Wasted medicines by the public

Strapline – open the bag

Hashtag - #openthebag #yourmedicines

Every year in Norfolk and Waveney, an estimated £4,738,6923 of unused medicines are wasted (based on Department of Health figures for the UK nationally).

Of the £4.7m worth of unused medicines we estimate that:

This sum of £4.7m 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 in the Norfolk and Waveney area. It includes an estimated £1.41 million worth of unused prescription medicines that are retained in individuals’ homes at any one time, £1.69 million returned to community pharmacies over the course of a year, and £0.78 million worth of NHS supplied medicines that are disposed of unused by care homes.


Allowances should be made for the possible under-reporting of waste because of the survey methodology used, the volume and cost of medicines disposed of informally via domestic waste and the drains, and the value of returns made to dispensing GPs. CCGs in addition incur returned medicine disposal costs, which can reasonably be factored into estimates of pharmaceutical wastage. Given these factors, we can conclude that based on the report ‘Evaluation of the scale, causes and costs of waste medicines (2010)’ that for the Norfolk and Waveney area a gross annual prescribed medicines wastage sum of £4.7 million represents a robust estimate.

The reasons why patients don't take all their medication can vary and audits have shown that around half of all the medication returned had not even been opened.

This means that patients are ordering and receiving medication that they don't even start to use.

By reducing the amount of medicines being wasted each year, we could increase the available funding for other desperately needed health services.

How can the public help save money wasted on medicines?

If you don’t need the medicine please open the bag and hand it backto the counter or to the delivery driver.

If you can’t take a medicine tell your GP, pharmacist or nurse.

Great coverage by Mustard TV


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Beccles House
1 Common Lane North
Beccles, Suffolk
NR34 9BN
01502 719 500
01502 719 874
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