Reducing medicines waste in the community

Jill K. Jesson, Rob Pocock, Keith A. Wilson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


There is increasing concern at the amount and cost of prescribed medicines that are unused or wasted and then have to be disposed of. Previous studies have used health promotion and Dispose Unwanted Medicines Properly campaigns targeted at the patient to describe and quantify the annual cost of waste. The reasons patients return unused drugs to pharmacies have also been explored. The paper focuses on patient explanations for not needing medication; categorized as: over-collection in the past, self-management strategies, changes in medical condition, other changes in patient circumstances, or the repeat medicines policy at the surgery. The aim of the original study was to make a measurable change in prescribed medicines with a reduction in medicines wastage, whilst at the same time achieving improved standards of pharmaceutical care. Information on patient needs and behaviour came from consultation in the pharmacy monitoring forms and interview. The study was based on two medical practices in the West Midlands, UK, comparing an outer city and an inner city population. The participants were general practitioners, pharmacists and 350 repeat prescription patients. Prescriptions were issued for two three-month periods. The outcome was that 23.8% of the prescribed items were not dispensed, at a value of £13.1K, 58% of the medications that would be expected to be regularly supplied were collected. The study suggests that closer professional management at the point of dispensing and an understanding of patient experiences can help reduce the amount of unwanted medication collected by patients.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)117-124
Number of pages8
JournalPrimary Health Care Research and Development
Publication statusPublished - 31 Oct 2005

Bibliographical note

Copyright © 2005 Arnold


  • community pharmacists
  • medicines waste
  • patients


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