Drug policies should focus on compliance, not waste

Drug wastage is not a major problem in the NHS and policies should try to ensure people take drugs correctly, even if this increases overall spend, according to a report published this week.

Research by the York Health Economics Consortium and the University of London’s School of Pharmacy showed that medicines waste in the NHS in England cost £300m in 2009.

This includes £90m of unused medicines stored in homes, £110m returned to pharmacies, and up to £50m worth of medicines disposed of annually by care homes.

The research findings did not indicate that the English NHS faced a greater risk of wasting medicines compared with other health services.

The study also suggested that introducing more extensive prescription charges, as has sometimes been proposed to reduce costs, would not cut drug waste. It may, in fact, discourage effective use of medicines by reducing compliance, the research found.

The researchers believe that only around half of this waste is preventable. Much of the waste is not caused by failures by individual clinicians or patients. Instead it is a result of treatment needing to be changed, for instance because an illness has progress.

Report co-author Professor Paul Trueman said many health professionals and members of the public believe that the physical waste of NHS drugs is a major issue.

‘We should do everything we can cost effectively to reduce it,’ he commented. ‘But we have not found that the NHS has a systemic problem with drug wastage which marks it out from other health services.

‘In value terms there is more to be gained from helping people to take their medicines more effectively, even though this may increase the overall volume of drugs paid for.’

Have you registered with us yet?

Register now to enjoy more articles and free email bulletins

Register

Already registered?

Sign in

Follow Us:

Just published

Walk-in GP services divert more patients from A&E but may not be cost-effective

Walk-in GP services divert more patients from A&E but may not be cost-effective

Convenient GP services can significantly reduce pressure on hospital A&E departments...

Practices face increasing risk of six-figure cash penalties, accountants warn

Practices face increasing risk of six-figure cash penalties, accountants warn

GP practices are increasingly likely to trigger six-figure financial penalties under...

Wide-ranging overhaul of GP bureaucracy promised amid spiralling practice workload

Wide-ranging overhaul of GP bureaucracy promised amid spiralling practice workload

Revalidation, referral processes, coding of patient data and letters required from...

Recognising and referring domestic violence and abuse

Recognising and referring domestic violence and abuse

A social enterprise is helping to train staff in GP practices to support women affected...

GPs 'in the dark' over pension tax trap support for this year

GPs 'in the dark' over pension tax trap support for this year

GPs remain in the dark over how a stop-gap offer from NHS England to pay off pension...

Network DES will cost GPs money and threaten independent contractor status, warn LMCs

Network DES will cost GPs money and threaten independent contractor status, warn LMCs

A group of LMCs has warned it 'cannot recommend' GPs sign up to revised plans for...