Rationale for medicines reuse:
Waste associated with prescribed medicines cost the National Health Service (NHS) in England an estimated £300 million a year in 2009, £110 million of which relates to medicines returned to community pharmacies for disposal. These figures have not been updated in a decade, therefore the real-terms cost implications in 2022 is likely much higher, as medicines use has vastly increased. Medication waste also carries a significant environmental impact associated with the production and distribution of medicines, and unsafe medication disposal practices which pollute the natural world. While some medication that would otherwise be discarded as waste is reused in Greece, New Zealand and the USA for charitable purposes, the decision to enable reuse is not being taken using scientific measurements to ascertain the quality of the reused product. The application of smart connected sensor technologies could facilitate medication reuse by collecting actual data on environmental storage factors and by connecting relevant pharmaceutical stakeholders to exchange this information to determine the reusability. This would enable a more ethical and responsible approach to valuing our environment, through the reduction of medication going to landfill, down the toilet and reusing our resources.
Our aim is to develop the science to prove that medicines reuse in the UK is possible and that with an underpinning of behavioral change, we can provide evidence to influence public policy to permit the reuse of returned medicines.
International Journal of Pharmacy Practice article (9 Aug 2017): How do people conceptualise the reuse of medicines? An interview study:
The Pharmaceutical Journal article (5 Jul 2018): Should pharmacists be allowed to reuse medicines?
Novel coronavirus (COVID-19) standard operating procedure (1 Apr 2020): Running a medicines re-use scheme in a care home or hospice setting:
UK Government guideline (28 Apr 2020): Coronavirus (COVID-19): reuse of medicines in a care home or hospice:
Pharmacy Magazine (5 May 2020): Returned medicines ‘could put staff at Covid-19 risk’