Malaysian ministry destroys RM2mil worth of expired meds
Most of the spoilt or expired drugs were returned under a government programme
By Rahimy Rahim
Malaysia’s Health Ministry has disposed of nearly RM2mil (US$446,678) worth of expired or spoilt drugs and medicines over a two-year period from 2014.
Most of the medicines had been returned to government pharmacies by patients under the ministry’s “Return Your Medicines” (PPU) programme, said Health director-general Datuk Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah.
Some of the drugs which the ministry disposed of, including anti-venom, were rarely used but government hospitals need to always have them in stock for emergencies.
“Other medicines had to be disposed as they had been damaged or spoilt due to disasters such as floods,” he told The Star.
The PPU programme was introduced in 2010 so that patients can return their unused or excess medicine for safe disposal by the ministry.
Dr Noor Hisham said the most common form of medicines which were returned by patients under the PPU programme were those used to treat diabetes, hypertension, high-cholesterol and gastritis.
He said that among the reasons patients ended up with expired or unused medicines was a change or discontinuation of a treatment.
In other cases, patients end up receiving a supply of the same medicine from multiple sources as they might have had follow-up appointments at different facilities.
Some returned medicines on behalf of patients who had died, while others had expired medicine either because they experienced side effects and stopped taking them or because they did not comply with the prescribed regiment.
Among the steps taken by the ministry to reduce wastage was to supply patients’ medicine on a monthly basis.
Patients, said Dr Noor Hisham, were also advised to inform their doctor or pharmacist if they still have the same medicine as prescribed at home.
“Patients are also encouraged to bring their medicines from home every time they come for refill so that we only top-up the supply accordingly instead of giving them extra.
“It is important for all parties, including patients and healthcare providers, to play their role in ensuring no wastage of medicines,” Dr Noor Hisham said.
“Patients are advised to be compliant towards their medication therapy while supports from the healthcare providers are available for patients if they have any issues with their medicines.”
Dr Noor Hisham said RM1.8mil (US$402,000) worth of medicine was disposed of in 2014, equal to 0.075 per cent of the ministry’s budget for that year.
Last year, medicine worth RM105,000 (US$23,450) or 0.005 per cent of the ministry’s budget were thrown out.
Malaysian Pharmaceutical Society president Amrahi Buang said patients and consumers must do their part to avoid wastage.
He said one factor that might be contributing to the problem was that government hospitals give patients some medicine for free.
“If the patients were made to pay part of the cost of these medicines, perhaps such wastage will not happen,” he said.
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