4128 - Prescription Drugs: Waste Disposal (Answered)

Mrs Madeleine Moon
To ask the Secretary of State for Health, what estimate he has made of the annual cost of destroyed unused prescribed medication; and if he will make a statement.

George Freeman

Information is not held centrally on the annual cost or amount of unused or unnecessary medicines 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 in November 2010 and is available at:


This found that the gross cost of unused prescription medicines in primary and community care in the NHS in England in 2009 was estimated to be £300 million a year and that up to £150 million of this was avoidable.

A number of initiatives, led by NHS England, are currently underway to optimise the use of medicines in the NHS and better empower patients.