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09-08-2011 | General practice | Article

DoH taskforce tackles medicine waste


Making best use of medicines: report of a Department of Health roundtable event

A new Department of Health taskforce will tackle medicine wastage in the NHS, thought to cost more than £800 million each year in direct and indirect medical costs.

The Steering Group to Improve the Use of Medicines will look at ways to encourage people to take their medicines as prescribed, thereby improving health outcomes and ensuring better value for the NHS.

Announcing the initiative, Health Minister Lord Howe said: "We want to look at how patients can make the most of the medicines they take. This isn't just about saving money - most importantly, it is about making sure that patients stay well and get the best outcomes from their medicines."

The Steering Group will be made up of experts and patient representatives and will be chaired by Robert Johnstone, a trustee of health charity National Voices, and Rob Darracott, chief executive of trade body Pharmacy Voice.

The Group was established following a roundtable event in January 2011, at which representatives of patients, health professionals, the NHS and industry discussed recent research into the scale, causes and costs of wasted medicine.

On top of the £300 million annual cost of discarded medications, there is an estimated £500 million annual cost to the NHS of people not taking their medications properly and therefore not getting the full health benefits.

The new Steering Group will now take responsibility for developing and implementing an action plan to reduce medicine waste. It is expected to report back in early 2012.

GP News is an independent clinical news service provided by Springer Healthcare Limited. © Springer Healthcare Ltd; 2011

By Joanna Lyford