Tay­side health chiefs highlight scourge of wasted med­i­ca­tion

HEALTH: NHS bosses ad­mit they have no idea how much pre­scrip­tion medicine is be­ing wasted

The Courier & Advertiser (Perth and Perthshire Edition) - - NEWS - DEREK HEALEY dhealey@the­courier.co.uk

Health chiefs have ad­mit­ted they have no way of know­ing how much un­used med­i­ca­tion is go­ing to waste across Tay­side.

The rev­e­la­tion comes af­ter Dundee mum Jane Mclean dis­cov­ered a mas­sive stash of pre­scrip­tion drugs in the at­tic of her new fam­ily home at the week­end.

Ms Mclean moved into the prop­erty with her nine-year-old daugh­ter and pet dog two months ago and was left “fum­ing” when she dis­cov­ered the eye-wa­ter­ing se­lec­tion of pills, painkillers and in­halers.

NHS Tay­side has pledged to in­ves­ti­gate the value of the mas­sive haul and said the case high­lighted the spi­ralling cost of wasted and un­wanted med­i­ca­tion in the re­gion.

David Coulson, the health board’s as­so­ciate di­rec­tor of phar­macy, said it was un­likely to be an iso­lated in­ci­dent but in­sisted NHS Tay­side was work­ing hard to pre­vent pa­tients need­lessly stock­pil­ing drugs.

“It’s re­ally dif­fi­cult to gauge the ex­act scale of the prob­lem,” he said.

“I think a lot of peo­ple are be­ing pre­scribed med­i­ca­tion they don’t feel they need or can take and for what­ever rea­son, are find­ing it dif­fi­cult to com­mu­ni­cate that to their GP or phar­ma­cist.”

Mr Coulson re­vealed more than 42% of pa­tients treated by the board’s acute frailty team were re­ferred due to medicine-re­lated causes, with con­fu­sion over pre­scrip­tions be­ing one of the top rea­sons for ad­mis­sion.

“We have many older pa­tients who may have mul­ti­ple pre­scrip­tions given for mul­ti­ple con­di­tions and it can be very dif­fi­cult to man­age – that’s why we are look­ing to raise the is­sue of polyphar­macy and hope­fully re­fine the way we in­ter­act with pa­tients,” he said.

NHS Tay­side said all of the med­i­ca­tion re­cov­ered from Ms Mclean’s home would be de­stroyed, as drugs that have been dis­pensed and col­lected by pa­tients can­not be reused.

The health board spent a stag­ger­ing £140 mil­lion on pre­scrip­tions last year, with un­used or wasted medicines re­ported to cost the NHS at least £1.4 mil­lion.

An­drew Radley, con­sul­tant in pub­lic health for phar­macy, said pa­tients should come for­ward if they feel they are be­ing given too much med­i­ca­tion or that it is not work­ing prop­erly.

“They mustn’t just put it away in a store cup­board,” he said.

“There are of course risks with keep­ing medicines for a long time, such as them not work­ing when you do even­tu­ally go to take them, but there is also the fact these es­sen­tial re­sources could in­stead have been used to help some­one who re­ally needed them.”

I think a lot of peo­ple are be­ing pre­scribed med­i­ca­tion they don’t feel they need or can take... DAVID COULSON

Pic­ture: Mhairi Ed­wards.

Jane Mclean with the un­used pre­scrip­tion drugs she found when she moved into her new house.

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