Wasted med­i­ca­tion is dam­ag­ing us all

The Courier & Advertiser (Dundee Edition) - - COMMENT -

When a Dundee woman found a huge haul of un­used pre­scrip­tion drugs in her at­tic her first con­cern was un­der­stand­ably what might have hap­pened if her daugh­ter had stum­bled across them. But the dis­cov­ery has shone a light on an is­sue that is in­di­rectly harm­ing peo­ple across the re­gion.

Pre­scrib­ing rules mean all of the med­i­ca­tion re­cov­ered from the Dundee at­tic will have to be de­stroyed. And at a time when NHS Tay­side is un­der in­tense scru­tiny over how it man­ages its bud­get, it is galling to re­alise this case is sim­ply the tiny tip of a very large ice­berg.

The health au­thor­ity spent £140 mil­lion on pre­scrip­tions last year. Some es­ti­mates have put the cost to the NHS of un­used or wasted med­i­ca­tion as high as a tenth of that sum.

Imag­ine the good that money could have done if it had been spent where it was re­ally needed.

To its credit, the health board has been work­ing to highlight the is­sue of stock­pil­ing and hope­fully the pub­lic­ity around this case will help ham­mer that mes­sage home.

With older peo­ple who are be­ing pre­scribed many kinds of med­i­ca­tion there is an onus on pro­fes­sion­als and car­ers to en­sure they are be­ing taken prop­erly.

But all of uswho use the NHS must play our part. If we are un­happy with our pre­scrip­tion, we have a duty to the sick and frailer mem­bers of so­ci­ety to dis­cuss it with our doc­tor and to en­sure scarce re­sources can be di­rected at those who need them most.

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