§ Mr. Burstow
To ask the Secretary of State for Health (1) what audit procedures exist to deal with the disposal of returned prescription drugs by health authorities; 
(2) what estimate he has made of the cost to the National Health Service of items prescribed but returned to community pharmacists or GPs unused; 
(3) what audit procedures exist to deal with the return of prescription drugs to community pharmacists. 455W
§ Mr. Milburn
We encourage the public to take unused medicines to a community pharmacy for safe destruction. This reduces the risk of accidental ingestion, especially by children, and allows the medicines to be destroyed in line with environmental law. Prescription-only medicines have to be disposed of as clinical waste. Funding has been made available to the National Health Service since 1993 to run schemes through community pharmacies for the safe disposal of waste medicines. As at 31 March 1997 schemes were running in every health authority area in England and Wales, and 98 per cent. of community pharmacies in these areas were taking part in these schemes. No national estimate has been made of the value of returned medicines.