The cost of wasted medicines is high. Once medicines are dispensed but you no longer need them, they cannot be re-used and must be thrown away. The average cost of one medicine on each prescription is between £11 and £12.

What can the NHS do about it?

Most doctors are prescribing medicines for only one or two months at a time unless they are absolutely sure that you will need them for longer.

Doctors and pharmacists are also trying to give you the same number of days’ supply of each medicine on your prescription. This avoids waste when treatment changes or stops. It also means that all your medicines should run out at about the same time, so you will have to collect repeat prescriptions less often.

What can YOU do about it?

You can help by ticking and checking your order form carefully.

When you collect your prescription from the surgery, check that it is only for the medicine you need. If there’s anything extra, please tell our staff before you leave the pharmacy.

Don’t be tempted to order extras as a ‘stand-by’.

If you feel you don’t need a particular medicine any more or have any problems with the medicines you are prescribed – tell our pharmacist. You could be helping prevent waste but, whatever you do, don’t just stop taking them without asking your doctor.

Follow these guidelines and you will –

Be able to order (and collect) most of your medicines in one go, which is less confusing and less time-consuming.

Help reduce waste and make more money available for other NHS services in your local health board.


Return out of date medicines to us for safe disposal, never dispose of your unused or unwanted medicines down the toilet.

If your medicines have changed recently – return your old medicines to us 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.


If you feel you don’t need a particular medicine any more or have any problems with the medicines you are prescribed, or are struggling with ordering your medicines – resulting in stockpiling of excess medicines – tell the pharmacist.

Our pharmacists can conduct a medication review with you and will look at how you use your medicines, making sure you are taking them properly to get the most benefit from them. They will then discuss with you any problems you may have with your medication and come up with a plan to resolve any issues identified.

It may be as simple as helping you with the quantities of medicines, so you are able to order most of your medicines in one go, which will be less confusing and less time-consuming.

This service is free under the NHS Chronic Medication Scheme for patients with a long-term condition.