Medicine Disposal

Health written question – answered on 5th June 2006.

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Photo of Ken Purchase Ken Purchase Labour, Wolverhampton North East

To ask the Secretary of State for Health what steps she is taking to prevent the inappropriate (a) use and (b) disposal of drugs following the death of a person in receipt of prescribed medicines.

Photo of Andy Burnham Andy Burnham Minister of State (Department of Health) (Delivery and Quality)

A number of steps have been taken. As part of the new contractual framework that went live from April 2005, all community pharmacies are expected to accept unwanted medicines and should have suitable and safe arrangements for the collection and safe disposal of medicines. The profile of safe use, storage and disposal of medicines has been raised through NHS Direct's website and the NHS Direct section of the Thompson local directory, which is issued to all households. We are also in discussion with NHS Direct to develop a leaflet, which professionals can give to members of the public when they are prescribed controlled drugs to ensure that they understand the importance of taking these medicines, and also to encourage them to return unused and unwanted medicines to pharmacies for safe disposal. We take every appropriate opportunity to communicate messages of safe use and disposal of medicines in our communication strategy.

The Fourth Report of the Shipman Inquiry made a number of recommendations to ensure the appropriate disposal of controlled drugs following the death of the person in receipt of these prescribed medicines. The Department is currently piloting patient drug record cards for schedule two injectable controlled drugs in the community.

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