Re-using excess medicines saves €600,000 so far


An experiment to re-use medicines which have been left over by giving them to other patients has saved €600,000 so far, news website has reported.

The anti-cancer drugs were given to other patients after a full quality control in trials run by Radboud University’s teaching hospital Radboudumc.

Researcher Charlotte Bekker told broadcaster NOS that medicine to the value of €100 million is thrown away every year – often in ordinary waste or flushed down toilets.

Often medicines are over-prescribed, but patients may also have drugs left because their treatment has changed or because they have suffered side effects. Medicine may also be left over if a patient dies.

Medicine can currently only be reused under strict conditions. Drugs which have been at patients’ homes, for example, have to be destroyed because they may have been kept in places which are too warm or too cold. Packages which have been opened must also be thrown away.

The trial involves using a special seal which shows if the package has been opened and a chip which measures the temperature it has been stored at. The trial also focuses on expensive drugs, costing at least €100 per packet.

Once pharmacists have assessed if the drugs are still safe, they can then be given to other patients who have been proscribed the same medicine.

The experiment, which is still ongoing, involves around 1,000 cancer patients at four hospitals in the Netherlands.  It is due to be completed next year but the results are very promising, Bekker said.

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