£3m of medicines wasted each year in Highlands

�3m worth of medicines are being wasted each year. Picture: Phil Wilkinson
�3m worth of medicines are being wasted each year. Picture: Phil Wilkinson
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A massive £3million a year is being spent in the Highlands on medicines that end up not being used.

NHS Highland has launched a campaign in a bid to reduce the amount of medicine that is being wasted across the area.

Medicines waste is a big issue with up to half of medicines not being taken as prescribed and there is an estimated £3m a year spent in Highland on medicines that end up not being used.

Clare Morrison, lead pharmacist (North) for NHS Highland, said: “Medicines are wasted for lots of reasons and it is a big issue for us.

“The key message of our campaign is if you don’t need a medicine, please don’t order it. Check what medicines you have at home before you ask for a repeat prescription.


“Medicines waste usually happens due to unnecessary ordering of repeat medicines. This could be a result of patients ordering medicines but not taking them, or ordering medicines that aren’t needed. Patients may also find that they are building up a stockpile of medicines.”

Mrs Morrison explained that some people worry that if they don’t order every medicine on their repeat list every time that they won’t be able to order those medicines in the future. This is absolutely not the case: there is no need to order a medicine every time unless it is needed.

She said: “Stockpiling medicines is also not safe, not only for the patient but also for their families, especially children. Medicines can be dangerous if accidentally taken by someone else.”

She added that some patients might stop taking medication maybe because they forget, due to side affects they are experiencing or because they do not want to take them.


She said: “We know that up to half of medicines aren’t taken as prescribed. That varies from an odd dose being missed to not taking a medicine at all.

“Please don’t worry about admitting to having problems with your medicines. It is really important that your doctor and pharmacist know what medicines you are taking to help you get the best care.

“We want to help people to get the most benefit from their medicines – so if you are having problems like side effects or forgetting to a medicine, please tell your doctor and pharmacist. Whatever the problem, they can help find solutions. This will mean better care for you and less waste for the NHS.”