More should pay prescription costs, says doctor
A way to cut the cost of wasted NHS medicines would be to ask all patients to meet some of their prescription costs, a Cambridge doctor has said.
Dr Ralph Salmon's comments came as NHS Cambridgeshire joined a campaign to tackle the estimated £300m of unused prescription drugs in the UK each year.
Dr Salmon said: "Only about 20% of patients pay directly for any prescription charge."
He believes patients would waste fewer drugs if they had to pay for them.
"It's almost like writing a blank cheque sometimes, when you prescribe things and very often patients don't even bother taking them," Dr Salmon said.
"This is a huge drain on public resources.
"Medicines are sometimes prescribed in too large quantities, or patients don't take the medications they're prescribed."
NHS Cambridgeshire estimates more than £3m of prescription medicine is wasted each year in the county.
It recently joined the Medicine Waste.com campaign which aims to raise awareness of the issue.
"One of the things I often do now when I prescribe a medicine to a patient is to tell them actually how much [it] costs, if it is an expensive medication," Dr Salmon said.
"I feel patients should have to make some contribution towards the cost of every medication, because it costs the community a great deal of money to provide it."
In August, the Department of Health set up a steering group to look into the issue. It is expected to present its initial report into tackling wasted NHS medicines in early 2012.