Recycling unused drugs

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The Audlem Patient Participation Group meets this evening at the Medical Practice.

At its last meeting, the PPG heard how the NHS could save millions of pounds by improving how drugs are prescribed which, in case you missed it the first time this article was published at the end of last year, is repeated today.

Recycling unused pills

Unused pills (not liquids) can also be recycled as long as you return them to the Medical Practice and not to Boots or any other pharmacy as pharmacists are obliged by the Department of Health to destroy them.

Our local practice says: "At Audlem Practice we constantly strive to get the amounts and frequencies of medications right but there remain a number of factors at work to thwart everyone's best efforts.

"We know that prescriptions change, get forgotten or ordered early because of holidays, or people go into hospital and arrive home with a bagful of new medicines, or you don't want something but it comes with the general order from the chemist anyway."

Large stores

"But we also know that some patients, often the most elderly and frail, can accumulate large stores of medicines in bags and cupboards; one patient had almost a whole year's supply of inhalers because they didn't take them twice a day, everyday — there was almost £1000 of unopened boxes when we counted up.

"Painkillers are another common medicine; you are given them to take as required but don't need them too often, but a box keeps coming every month anyway!

"We have also teamed up with a charity to recycle medicines when we can — did you know that any medicines handed back to the Chemist cannot be re-used; they all have to be destroyed — thousands of pounds wasted for no good reason.

"The Practice has tightened up on the way we enter drugs on the computer system to try and alert us to overuse — but what we don't know is when there is Under-use.

Campaign

"So a campaign started earlier this year — you will have seen posters in the Practice and village, stickers on prescriptions, leaflets flying around — asking patients, their friends or relatives to check what they have in stock, in bags or cupboards or under the bed!

"We really want to know what is happening in our community so that we can improve. We won't be annoyed or irritated if we find out patients are not taking their medications — if you feel well without them then we'll stop them. Much better we know what you take in case you fall ill and we have inaccurate information.

"So get checking and prying — what's hiding in your cupboards? — we want to know! And if you do have excess or unused supplies, please bring them to the surgery and we will deal with them.

Pharmacies

It is best not to return unused to Boots or any other pharmacist as they have to destroy them.

While all pharmacies, including Boots, are obliged to accept unwanted medicines back from patients, the Department of Health (DH) however, says that medicines returned to pharmacies cannot be reissued to other patients.

The Royal Pharmaceutical Society's Code of Ethics for Pharmacists states that 'medicines returned to a pharmacy from a patient's home, a nursing or residential home must not be supplied to any other patient'. These medicines cannot be used again and have to be destroyed.

So, if you have unused medicines, always return them to Audlem Medical Practice who can recycle medicines through a charity that works in the Third World.