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Repeat prescriptions

Have you or a family member stopped taking a medicine which is still being prescribed?

Once you collect your medicines from the pharmacy, they can’t be recycled or re-used – even if the packaging is intact or in a sealed container.

If you take it but don’t use it, it goes to waste as it cannot be used for anyone else.

All medication returned unused is destroyed.

The biggest problem in medicine waste comes from repeat prescriptions that people no longer need or use.

Recent audits* have shown that around half of all medication returned to pharmacists for disposal had not even been opened – meaning that patients are ordering and receiving medication that they don’t even start to use.

The reasons why patients don’t take all their medication can vary, such as worrying they may run out of medicine or not wanting to tell their GP if they’ve stopped taking their medicine.

How Can You Help?


There are a number of ways that you can help to reduce the issue of wasted medicines.

Only order the medicines that you need

  • Please let your GP or pharmacist know if you’ve stopped taking any of your medicines
  • Check what medicines you still have at home before re-ordering
  • Ask your pharmacist or GP surgery for a medication review
  • Think carefully before ticking all the boxes on your repeat prescription forms and only tick those you need
  • If you don’t need the medicine please don’t order it! If you need the medicine in the future you can still request it.
  • If you need to go into hospital, please remember to take all your medicines with you in a clearly marked bag.
  • Please also remember that your medicines are prescribed only for you; it’s not safe to share them with anyone else.

Remember that unused medicines cannot be recycled

  • Even if you never open them, once medicines have left the pharmacy, they cannot be recycled or used by anyone else.
  • Please bring your unused medicines to the pharmacy for safe disposal.
  • NEVER dispose of your unused or unwanted medicines down the toilet.

Unused medicines are a safety risk

  • Return out of date medicines to your pharmacy or dispensary for safe disposal.
  • If your medicines change - return your old medicines to the pharmacy for safe disposal to avoid mixing them up with your new medicines.
  • Don't stockpile medication - it is a safety risk for children and others who might take them.
  • Store medicines in an appropriate place out of reach of children.

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