The Gibraltar Health Authority have launched a campaign calling on the public to dispose of unused medicines properly as part of the Reset, Restart, Recover strategy.

The campaign aims to gauge the scale of unused medicines in Gibraltar, with a view to reducing waste and unnecessary prescriptions.

The Chief Pharmacist estimates that the GHA is spending anywhere between tens of thousands and hundreds of thousands of pounds a year on prescribing medications that go unused by patients.

As well as the cost to the GHA of unused prescriptions, out-of-date medication that is not disposed of correctly poses Public Health risks as well as Environmental Hazards.

Members of the public are asked to take their unused and unwanted medicines to a local pharmacy, the Primary Care Centre or St Bernard’s hospital and place them in special green ‘bins’. These will then be valued before being disposed of in the proper manner.

The Chief Pharmacist, Ed Freestone, said: ‘Unused or out-of-date medicines can build up in the home for a variety of reasons. Storing these long-term is not safe and can pose a number of risks including accidental poisonings, inappropriate sharing of medicines and environmental damage if they are not disposed of correctly.

Please go through your medicine cabinets for any medicines that you no longer need, want or are out of date, and take them to the special green bins at your local pharmacy or the GHA.

‘Collecting such medicines via this campaign will provide quantitative data which will allow the GHA to estimate the cost to the taxpayer of unused, wasted medicines. This is money that can be put to far better use elsewhere in the GHA, for equipment and treatments that meet the needs of patients.’

The Director General, Prof Patrick Geoghegan OBE, said: ‘It is important the public recognise that every penny the GHA wastes in relation to medication is money we don’t have to provide essential services. We need you, the public, to help us address this problem and I look forward to knowing the total monetary value of the medications that we will be disposing of as part of this campaign.’