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Jersey's unwanted medicines fill 120 bin bags

14 April 2015

A campaign which encouraged the safe disposal of unused and out-of-date medicines resulted in Islanders handing in enough to fill 120 large bin bags.

Now, the second phase of the Dispose of Unwanted Medicines Properly (DUMP) campaign is being launched and Islanders are being asked to help reduce the amount of medicine that’s wasted.

Over two weeks in June 2014, Islanders were encouraged to clear out their medicine cabinets and hand in unwanted medicines to pharmacists for safe disposal as part of the DUMP campaign.

Among the unwanted medicines handed in were:

  • a painkiller that was withdrawn from the market about eight years ago because of its toxicity
  • eight unopened packs of eye drops, all prescribed to one patient over several repeated prescriptions
  • unopened packs of a medicine for nerve pain worth around £200
  • hundreds of courses of antibiotics that had been part-used but not completed
  • hundreds of everyday medicines such as pain killers and laxatives

The returned medicines had an estimated value of £250,000, and the second phase of the DUMP campaign is now being launched with the long-term aim of reducing the amount of wasted medicine in Jersey.

As well as incurring cost for the States, keeping unused and out-of-date medicines at home can pose a safety hazard to vulnerable people and to the very young.

Deputy Susie Pinel, Minister for Social Security, said “I’m delighted that the DUMP campaign was so successful, and that so many unwanted medicines were handed in for safe disposal.

“We have looked at the type, volume and cost of the medicines that were handed during the campaign and decided to extend the campaign into a second phase. For example, around 70% of all the medicines handed over the counter at pharmacies are repeat prescriptions. If we all change the way in which we think about repeat prescriptions – and ask ourselves whether we need them – then we will be able to reduce the amount of medicine that’s wasted.”

Second part of campaign

The second part of the DUMP campaign will target Islanders at the point when they are seeking to obtain their medicines and will include:

  • posters in pharmacies and GP surgeries
  • flyers handed to patients as they collect their antibiotic prescriptions
  • social media advice

DUMP campaign objectives

The objectives are to:

  • discourage Islanders from routinely re-ordering repeat prescriptions which they don’t need
  • encourage patients to discuss their prescription with their GP or pharmacist (especially if they are being issued with medicines they don’t use anymore)
  • encourage patients not to ask or expect their GP to prescribe antibiotics for minor ailments or viral illnesses that could be treated using over-the-counter remedies
  • encourage Islanders to complete courses of prescribed antibiotics, even if they feel better

Islanders will also be reminded that they can still hand unused and unwanted medicines into Jersey pharmacies for safe disposal.

Up to half of medicines not taken as recommended

Deputy Pinel said “The problem of wasted medicines is not unique to Jersey; the UK estimate that medicines waste costs the NHS £300 million each year and up to 50% of medicines are not taken as recommended by the doctor or pharmacist.

“In Jersey, we already have in place a number of processes which help reduce waste: We limit the length of time over which medicines can be prescribed and only fund medicines if they are on our prescribed list. This allows us to achieve good value for money, but we can do more to reduce waste by changing the way we think about repeat prescriptions.”

You can find out more about the DUMP campaign on the this website, and by following the States of Jersey on Facebook and Twitter.

Safe disposal of unused and out-of-date medicines (health and wellbeing section)

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