A study published in Australian Prescriber on June 1, 2015 has found more than $2 million of public money is wasted each year with the return of more than 600 tonnes of medicines, many of which are still within their expiry dates, through the National Return and Disposal of Unwanted Medicines Program, since its inception in 1998.

The study identified the top seven therapies most likely to be discarded, which include:

  1. Salbutamol: for the treatment of bronchospasm in respiratory illnesses, such as asthma.
  2. Insulin: A hormone therapy commonly used to treat autoimmune deficiency in diabetes.
  3. Frusemide: A diuretic treatment used mainly to increase the volume of urine output and remove excess fluid from the body.
  4. Prednisolone: A corticosteroid treatment used to treat inflammatory disease.
  5. Glyceryl trinitate: A heart therapy used to treat angina (chest pain caused by insufficient blood flow and oxygen to the heart) and heart failure.
  6. Termisartan/amlodipine: A treatment commonly used to relieve high-blood pressure.
  7. Fluticasone/salmeterol: An inhaled corticosteroid asthma treatment.

Study researchers suggest hoarding and non-compliance contribute to medicinal waste.

In order to combat this waste, study researchers advise doctors to “prescribe no more than the required quantity of medicines” and recommend “When starting a new therapy, prescribe a minimal quantity in case the drug is unsuitable for the patient.”

Read the full study in Australian Prescriber here.