THE WESTERN Health and Social Care Trust and the Public Health Agency are encouraging people across Northern Ireland to take part in a “Bring Back Your Unused Medicine” week which is running from now until September 23.
Every year, many children and adults attend Emergency Departments after accidentally taking unused medicine left in homes and cabinets.
Media reports have also documented the rise in the number of drugs such as diazepam being sold on the streets of Northern Ireland.
Some of these drugs have been legitimately prescribed for patients, and are then misused and abused.
Joe Brogan, Head of Pharmacy, Northern Ireland, “We’re encouraging people to return their unused medicine to help reduce the incidences of drugs being misused or illegally shared.
“We also hope that while returning these unused medicines, people will also see how much medicine is wasted. Over-ordering and over-prescribing of medicine leads to an estimated £18m of wasted medicines each year.”
About 90 tonnes of medicines, with an estimated value of £6.46m, are returned to community pharmacies annually as waste, costing the Health Service a further £400,000 to dispose.
The “Bring Back Your Unused Medicine” campaign will encourage people to look in their cupboards, drawers and anywhere in the home they keep medicine and return any which they no longer use or have expired, to their local community pharmacies or dispose of them in the RAPID (Remove All Prescription and Illegal Drugs) bins which facilitate the disposal of unwanted drugs easily and discreetly.
Joe continued, “Doing an annual stock take or clear out will let people see what medicine or repeat prescriptions they are getting but perhaps no longer use.
“If a patient cannot take their medicine as prescribed, they should talk to their GP or pharmacist.
“In the last year, over 27,000 patients in Northern Ireland had their medication reviewed in community pharmacies and received advice on how to use their medicine more effectively and reduce waste.”