The Alliance Stop Medicine Waste is focusing on interventions to avoid medicine waste. In May, the Alliance will run an information campaign in 4 municipalities in Denmark. The campaign is supposed to enhance the knowledge that medicine residues must be handed in at the pharmacy. In connection to the information campaign an analysis will be conducted consisting of examination of the medicine residues handed in by citizens at pharmacies together with a questionnaire about the reasons for this.
Medicines are prescribed by the doctor and dispensed at the pharmacies for the benefit of the citizens. Unfortunately, much medicine is handled wrong or is wasted. This is a threat for both patient safety, the environment, and the health economics - quite against the purpose.
In a study from 2001 it was estimated that the value of one year's medicine waste handed in by citizens at pharmacies in Denmark was 115 Mill. DKK, whereof more than three quarters was medicines on the reimbursement scheme (1). In a study from 2014 with 41 Dutch pharmacies 759 medicine packages was handed in, of which 39% was considered to be preventable waste (2). In a pilot study from 2020 pharmacy interns from the University of Copenhagen showed that nearly two thirds of the medicine residues handed in was not expired, that nearly half of the packages contained 21-100 tablets, and that nearly one third of the packages was still sealed (data not published).
The aim of the information campaign performed by the communication bureau Advice is to enhance the citizen's knowledge about correct disposal of medicine residues with the wish to have medicine residues handed in at the pharmacy to avoid unused and expired medicines in citizen's homes.
The aim of the analysis is to explore the amount of medicine residues handed in by citizens at pharmacies in Denmark, to categorize the medicine residues according to reimbursement, ATC code, formulation, residual amount and shelf-life, and to assess the reasons for citizens to hand in medicine residues at the pharmacy. This can lead to recommendations for further work with reducing medicine waste for the Alliance Stop Medicine Waste.