NHS Wirral launches major campaign to reduce medicine waste

WIRRAL NHS is taking part in a major campaign to raise awareness about ordering repeat prescriptions, help people get the best from their medicines and cut down on medicine waste.

GPs and pharmacists across Wirral have joined together in a bid to help patients understand their medicines and the treatment options they have.

According to the World Health Organisation between 30-50% of patients do not take or use their medicines as prescribed.

This can occur for a number of reasons, including patients not believing the medicine is necessary, possible side effects and fitting the taking or using of medicines into daily routines.

Some patients choose between medicines if they feel they are taking too many - others cut down or stop taking or using medicines they have used for a long time.

Bruce Taylor, a GP from Claughton Medical Centre, said: "Everyone involved in prescribing, dispensing or reviewing medicines needs to ensure that patients are involved in making decisions about their treatment and that more medicines are taken as recommended.

"Unwanted drugs in the home may mean that patients are not getting the benefit they could be from their medicines. It also represents a large amount of waste."

The campaign will also offer patients who ask for repeat prescriptions help on how they can minimise waste.

Bruce adds: "There are a number of ways people can help reduce medicine waste.

"We are asking people only to tick the medicines they need and are running out of when they ask for a repeat prescription.

"Any other medicines can be dispensed when needed at a later date.

"Once medicines have been dispensed they cannot be recycled and have to be thrown away."

Paul Murphy, community pharmacist at Miriam Pharmacy in Birkenhead, said: "There are a number of reasons why medicines are going to waste, including people no longer taking or using the drugs.

"Patients can talk to their pharmacist or GP about their medicines and how to use them more effectively."

"If anyone has any unused medicines at home we're encouraging them to bring them back to their pharmacy for safe disposal as others may also be put at risk if unwanted drugs are left in the home."

The campaign will encourage patients to have regular reviews of their medicines with their pharmacist or GP to discuss any issues they may have with their drugs.

Anyone with unwanted medicines can return them to their local pharmacy where they will be disposed of safely.

The campaign, which features posters, leaflets and prescription inserts, will run throughout May, June and July 2009.