Unused prescribed medicines 'cost NHS £4.5m in north Staffordshire'
Unused prescribed medicines are costing the NHS in Stoke-on-Trent and north Staffordshire at least £4.5m a year, a health chief has said.
Some 90% of all prescription items are dispensed free nationally and the £7.65 charged to the other 10% often does not cover the cost of the medicines.
Dr Manir Hussain, from local clinical commissioning groups, said the £4.5m was a "sizeable chunk" of the budget.
A campaign is under way to highlight the cost to patients.
Dr Hussain, head of medicine management, said: "We spend £72m on medicines in north Staffordshire and Stoke each year so £4.5m is a sizable chunk of that.
'Returned medicine incinerated'
"If you could imagine three or four double-decker buses full of medicines, this is the medicine that's actually returned back to the pharmacy so we don't know the complete picture.
"Some people think that when they do return the medicines back to the chemist they're going to be re-used.
"Our regulations are very strict and anything returned back to the chemist can't be used for another patient so they're all incinerated and safely disposed.
"It's not about whether you pay for your medicines or you don't pay for your medicines - it's just to highlight that what you are actually taking, somebody's paid for it."