​​​​Merton's Medicines Waste Campaign


On 8 June 2015, community pharmacies and Merton GPs launched a campaign to reduce medicine waste in Merton by encouraging people to 'only order what you need​.'  Read the news story here.

What is the problem?​

A report by the Department of Health estimates that unused medicines cost the NHS around £300 million every year, with an estimated £110 million worth of medicine returned to pharmacies, £90 million worth of unused prescriptions being stored in homes and £50 million worth of medicines disposed of by Care Homes.

These startling figures don't even take into account the cost to patients' health if medicines are not being correctly taken. If medicine is left unused, this could lead to worsening symptoms and extra treatments that could have been avoided.​

Why are medicines wasted?

Sometimes patients receive medicines they don't actually use, or use only occasionally. This means that they can lose out on the intended health benefits of their prescription. The reasons why patients don't take all their medication can vary and audits have shown that around half of all the medication returned had not even been opened. This means that patients are ordering and receiving medication that they don't even start to use.

By reducing the amount of medicines being wasted each year, we could increase the available funding for other desperately needed health services.​

Medicines Waste in Merton costs £1million 

It is estimated that in Merton over £1 million is lost each year through medicines waste alone.
The £1 million potential saving in Merton could be spent on

  • 33 more district nurses; or

  • 270 more hip replacements; or

  • 28 more community physiotherapists; or

  • 23 more dementia nurses.

How can you help?

  • Only order what you need.  For example, before heading to the pharmacy, take a look in your medicine cabinet to see what you actually need. You may have ordered extra of a repeat prescription last time you went and forgot.​

  • Return unwanted medicines to your pharmacy for safe disposal

  • Take medicines with you when you go into hospital​

Did you know?

Even if you never open them, once you leave a pharmacy your medicines cannot be recycled or used by anyone else. This means that any you return are destroyed.

For more information please visit www.medicinewaste.com​

Updated June 2015