Skip to main content

NHS: Drugs

Question for Department of Health

UIN 45077, tabled on 6 September 2016

To ask the Secretary of State for Health, what assessment he has made of the potential merits of reusing dispensed but unused returned drugs in the NHS.

Answered on

14 September 2016

In general, where a hospital pharmacy issues medicines to an individual patient and they remain within the hospital, either because they are not used or only partly used, the medicines would be returned to the pharmacy to check that they are suitable for re-use and returned to the pharmacy stock.

The Government does not promote the re-use of medicines that have left the pharmacy and been returned to either hospital or community pharmacies by patients, as it is not possible to guarantee the quality of a returned medicine by physical inspection alone.

The Government also does not recommend the donation of patient-returned medicines. This is in line with clear World Health Organization guidelines, which have been developed‎ in cooperation with major international agencies involved in humanitarian and developmental aid. The guidelines are available at: