Skip to main content

Prescription Drugs

Question for Department of Health

UIN 45086, tabled on 6 September 2016

To ask the Secretary of State for Health, what estimate he has made of the annual cost to the NHS of dispensed but unused prescription drugs.

Answered on

14 September 2016

Information is not held centrally on the annual cost or amount of dispensed but unused prescription drugs in the National Health Service.

The Department commissioned the York Health Economics Consortium and the School of Pharmacy at the University of London to carry out research to determine the scale, causes and costs of waste medicines in England. The report, Evaluation of the Scale, Causes and Costs of Waste Medicines, was published on 23 November 2010. This found that the gross cost of unused prescription medicines in primary and community care in the NHS in England in 2009 was £300 million a year and that up to £150 million of this was avoidable.

NHS England is currently working with the Department and the NHS Business Services Authority to consider how value can best be obtained from the use of medicines, both in terms of patient outcomes and financial implications. This work, along with the medicines optimisation programme, will help ensure best value for both taxpayers and patients.