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Dealing with Unused Medicines

  • Take unused or out of date medicines to any pharmacy for safe disposal.
  • Niever dispose of your unused or unwanted medicines by flushing down the toilet or putting into the rubbish bin.

Unused medicines are a safety risk.  Don't stockpile

  • If your medicines change - return your old medicines to a pharmacy to avoid confusion.
  • Unused medicines are a safety hazard for children.
  • Store them in a safe place.


  • Repeat Prescriptions - only order what you need.
  • Let your GP or Pharmacist know if you've stopped taking any of your medicines.
  • Discuss your medication with a health professional regularly.
  • If you go into hospital take all of your medications with you in a clearly marked bag.
  • Remember that your medicines are prescribed only for you; it is not safe to share them with anyone else.

Why are Medicines Wasted?

Sometimes patients receive medicines they don't actually use or use only occasionally.


  • Loss of intended health benefits
  • Cost to the NHS

Around half of all medication returned to pharmacies have not even been opened.

This means that patients are ordering and receiving medication that they don't even start to use.

What's the Problem?

Unused medicines cost the NHS (that's us) around £300 million every year in England.

  • £10m worth returned to pharmacies
  • £90m worth stored in homes
  • £50m worth disposed of by Care Homes

By reducing the amount of medicines being wasted each year we could increase the available funding for other health services:-

£300 million could pay for:-

  • 11,778 MORE Community Nurses
  • 80,906 MORE Hip Replacements
  • 19,779 MORE Drug Treatments course for Breast Cancer
  • 300,000 MORE Drug Treatments Course for Alzheimer's or
  • 312,175 MORE Cataract Operations


Before ordering a repeat prescription, work out what you actually need.

Think before you tick a repeat prescription box.  Try not to stockpile your medication.

Did you know?

Once you leave a pharmacy your medicines cannot be recycled or used by anyone else.  This means that any you return are destroyed.

Medicines taken incorrectly or unused could result in worsening symptoms and extra treatments that could have been avoided.


The NHS spends more than £80m each year on paracetamol at an average cost of £3.83 per prescription.  Four times more than those purchased over the counter.

In West Leicester £1 million was spent on paracetamol products in 2014/15 out of a total prescribing budget of £50m.

We welcome your thoughts on Paracetamol Prescribing.  Some patients have decided to cross paracetamol off their repeat prescriptions and to purchase it themselves it's your choice.

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