Medicines waste

It has been estimated that £300 million of NHS prescribed medicines are wasted each year. A number of opportunities have been identified to reduce waste, particularly through a focus on dispensing and prescribing methods, as well as targeting specific patient and drug types. Common themes for best practice emerged from the case study source: support at the point of prescribing, control of medicine optimisation, the importance of measuring benefits, governance and communication.

Case study source

Pharmaceutical waste reduction in the NHS

Financial Calculations


It is assumed that costs are taken into account in the extrapolated savings estimates.


In the above report 7 case studies of medical waste reduction projects have been examined. The savings have been quantified and extrapolated to national levels. The median result from these was a £50M saving, therefore this has been used for the calculations.

Carbon Calculations

The cost of medicines in England in 2013 exceeded £15 billion. The achievable savings have been concluded as £50 million, which indicates that 0.333% of medicines could be saved.

The SDU Carbon Hotspots report identifies that 2,813 ktCO2e are associated with medicines across the health and social care system. Using the 0.333% achievable saving, we can conclude that 9,377tCO2e can be saved (before uptake rates are taken into account).