Let’s Talk Medicines

NHS Tayside wants to encourage the public to help reduce unused medicines by only ordering the medicines they need. 

The ‘Let’s Talk Medicines’ campaign encourages people on repeat prescriptions to look again at the medicines they take and speak to their pharmacist or GP if they have any questions or concerns and only order the medication they need. This in turn should reduce the amount of medicines that people keep at home and do not take or return to their pharmacy for disposal.

Unused medicines cost the NHS in Scotland millions of pounds every year. Audit Scotland has estimated that Scotland’s avoidable drug waste bill is between £12 and £18million per year. In Tayside this would equate to approximately £1.4million. 

Stocking up on over the counter medicines, checking any repeat prescriptions and ordering only what is needed to cover the holidays can help to avoid or deal with the most common winter ailments. It's also a good idea to know GP surgery and local pharmacy opening hours over the festive periods. 

NHS Tayside Director of Pharmacy Frances Rooney said, “Medicines that are no longer required and are wasted are a serious and growing problem for NHS Tayside. Sometimes patients or carers order repeat prescriptions they don’t really need and stockpile them at home. This can lead to huge amounts of medicines being wasted. 

“Many people may not know that unused medicines cannot be recycled. Once medicines have left the pharmacy they cannot be re-used and must be incinerated, even if they are unopened. Unused medicines are a safety risk at home for children and others who may take them. Unused medicines should be brought to the pharmacy for safe disposal.

“Having a medicines review with your GP will also help to make sure patients are still receiving the most appropriate medication for their condition. You should also let your GP or your pharmacist know if you have stopped taking any of your medication for any reason.”

Look at the medicines you currently take and:
• Only order what you need. Check which medicines you have at home before ordering more – remember that your medicines may come in different packaging
• Ask your pharmacist or doctor for a medication review if you have concerns
• Let your doctor know if you have stopped taking any of your medicines
• Think carefully before ticking all of the medicines on your repeat prescription form unless you need them all
• Take your medicines with you if you need to go into hospital
• Discuss your medicines with your doctor or pharmacist regularly 
• Never dispose of your unused or unwanted medicines down the toilet
• Return your old medicines to the pharmacy or dispensary for safe disposal 

It’s your NHS – you can help us to make use of our resources better. Everyone can make a difference. Tell us what the NHS means to you and your family - #lovenhstayside.