Unused drugs bill draining NHS

UNUSED and unnecessary medicines are costing Suffolk's health service millions of pounds a year, it has been revealed.In the west of the county, unused prescription drugs are responsible for £900,000 of wasted money, while in the Waveney district the figure stands at around £450,000.

UNUSED and unnecessary medicines are costing Suffolk's health service millions of pounds a year, it has been revealed.

In the west of the county, unused prescription drugs are responsible for £900,000 of wasted money, while in the Waveney district the figure stands at around £450,000.

And, although exact figures are not available for east Suffolk, the problem is thought to be just as much of an issue.

"For our area to be spending £900,000 a year on medicines which are not taken is of great concern," said Rachel Webb, Head of Prescribing for the Suffolk West Primary Care Trust (PCT).


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"We are appealing to patients to make sure they get the best from their medicines by understanding more about what they are taking and why.

"We want to encourage patients to get fully involved in decisions about their medicines. To do this we have to increase awareness of the various sources of reliable medicines advice and information that are available."

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The problem is set to be highlighted as part of 'Ask about Medicines Week', which runs from October 13-18, where patients will be encouraged to discuss their medication with both their pharmacist and GP.

"We need the help of the public to ensure that we get real value for money," said Tony Ranzetta , chief executive of Suffolk West PCT. "This is especially true with medicines.

"It is very worrying that £900,000 of our £34 million prescribing budget is spent on medicines that are never used – this is treatment that the NHS is paying for, but which isn't helping our patients."

Jan Rowsell, spokeswoman for the PCTs in East Suffolk, said they had published a leaflet – called 'repeat prescriptions' - to make patients aware of the extent of the problem.

"What is important for us is to try and prevent it happening in the first place," she added. "The leaflet encourages people to think carefully whether they need the medicine or not.

"The NHS does not have unlimited resources and spending money on drugs that people don't need or use – when it could be spent elsewhere – is a major issue.

"The drugs bill is one which puts a lot of pressure on everyone's budget."

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