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Information and guidance for public, NHSGGC staff, and community-based services.  Hospital visiting restrictions now in place.

'Speak Up' and Help Us Tackle Medicine Waste

Wednesday, August 15, 2018

Every year in NHS Scotland £20 million is spent on medicines waste. The biggest problem comes from repeat prescriptions that people no longer need or use. 

Now a new campaign has been launched by NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde and the six Health and Social Care Partnerships in the area to highlight the significant and growing problem of medicines waste and to encourage us all to help tackle it. 

Patients on repeat prescriptions can play a major part in helping us tackle the problem of wasted medicines.  Sometimes patients or carers on repeat prescriptions continue to get more medicine than they need.  A few easy steps can make a big difference. 

We are asking patients to think about which medicines they need, check what medicines they still have at home before re-ordering and to let their Pharmacist or General Practitioner know if they have stopped taking any medicines on their repeat prescription list. 

Another practical measure is to make sure any medicines are taken in date order otherwise they can go out of date and have to be discarded. 

These few steps could make a significant difference to the amount of medicines wasted every year. 

Audrey Thompson, lead pharmacist prescribing services, said: “Some medication returned to pharmacists for disposal is not opened – meaning that people 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.

“We want to ensure our staff, whether they receive regular medication themselves, or if they have a family member that is on repeat prescription, know the facts about this issue and know what to do if they have stopped taking a medication that is still being prescribed.” 

To find out more, go to the dedicated webpages

There are a number of ways to help reduce wasted medicines:

  • Only order the medicines that you need
  • Please let your pharmacist or GP know if you’ve stopped taking any of your medicines.
  • Check what medicines you still have at home before re-ordering.
  • Ask your pharmacist, GP surgery or practice nurse 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.

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’s a safety risk for children and others who might take them.
  • Store medicines in an appropriate place out of reach of children.


For further information either telephone 0141 201 4429 or email [email protected]


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Last Updated: 11 November 2021