§ Nick Harvey
To ask the Secretary of State for Health (1) what steps he is taking to reduce the waste of presrcibed drugs through their not being used; 
(2) if he will estimate the annual value of presrcibed drugs not used.
§ Ms Rosie Winterton
It is estimated that unused medicines returned to pharmacies are probably worth £100 million per year. The Department is concerned about the wastage of unused medicines and has introduced a number of initiatives to address this.
These include, the medicines management collaborative schemes that demonstrate innovation and good practice in medicines management. Reducing the 138W volume of unwanted medicines is one of the local objectives being pursued by some of the primary care trusts participating in the programme.
Repeat dispensing makes it possible for patients to get their repeat medicines for up to a year from their community pharmacy without having to contact their general practitioner's surgery. At each repeat dispensing episode, the community pharmacists checks that the medicines are still needed and being used appropriately by the patient.
The first wave of 30 pathfinder sites is no under way, with another 50 or so coming on stream early nest year, ahead of national roll-out by end of 2004. Evidence from previous pilot studies has shown that repeat dispensing helps reduce waste.
In the Government statement of 17 July on the proposed framework for a new community pharmacy contract, disposal of medicines would form one of the essential services for all national health service pharmacies. Discussions on this front continue with the Pharmaceutical Services Negotiating Committee and the NHS Confederation. We aim to start implementing by April 2004. www.doh.gov.uk/pharmacyframework
Modernising hospital pharmacy services, where patients can now continue to use their medicines when admitted to hospital, together with dispensing medicines at the outset sufficient for discharge, has also been shown to reduce waste.