So far, reuse of excess drugs saves €600,000

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An experiment to reuse leftover drugs by donating them to other patients has saved €600,000 so far, news site Nu.nl reported.

The cancer drugs were given to other patients after thorough quality control in trials conducted by Radboud University’s Radboudumc Teaching Hospital.

Researcher Charlotte Bekker told NOS that 100 million euros worth of medicines are thrown away every year – often in regular waste or down the toilet.

Often, medications are over-prescribed, but patients may also be over-medicated because their treatment has changed or because they have suffered side effects. Medications can also be left out if a patient dies.

Medicines can currently only be reused under strict conditions. Medicines that were in patients’ homes, for example, should be destroyed because they may have been stored in places that are too hot or too cold. Packages that have been opened should also be discarded.

The test uses a special seal that indicates whether the package has been opened and a chip that measures the temperature at which it was stored. The trial also focuses on expensive drugs, costing at least €100 per packet.

Once pharmacists have assessed whether the drugs are still safe, they can then give them to other patients who have been banned from the same drug.

The experiment, which is still ongoing, involves around 1,000 cancer patients at four hospitals in the Netherlands. It is expected to be completed next year, but the results are very promising, Bekker said.

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