A strong dose of reality: Households waste 70% medicines, shows survey

Even as the Ministry of Consumer Affairs is working on a proposal to ensure consumers buy only the quantity of medicines prescribed/desired and not the entire blister pack, a recent survey reveals otherwise. A survey conducted on over 33,000 respondents by LocalCircles says people throw away anything between 10 per cent and 70 per cent of the medicines bought/prescribed.

It shows 36 per cent of respondents discard up to 10 per cent of the medicines purchased; 27 per cent end up throwing out up to 10-30 per cent; 6 per cent dispose of 30-50 per cent of the medicines unused; and about 6 per cent scrap anything between 50 per cent and 70 per cent of the medicines acquired.
For syrups and eye drops, the full pack is sold, he adds, saying pharmacists mention the expiry date on a sticker when they dispense a partial pack to a customer.

Singhal says on average about 1.5 per cent of the overall medicines sold in the country are wasted as they expire and are sent back to pharma companies.
The Indian pharmaceutical (pharma) market is estimated to be about Rs 1.8 trillion. About Rs 270 crore worth of medicines are wasted once they are past their shelf life.

“Of this, 20-30 per cent are wasted at the pharmacy end as these are cut blister packs of medicines which a pharmacist cannot return to companies,” says Singhal. Most of this wastage is at the wholesaler end, he adds.
If the consumer affairs ministry mandates dispensing only the required quantity, it will be a welcome step, he says, adding pharmacies are already adhering to this practice.

According to reports, the consumer affairs ministry is considering issuing an advisory to the pharma sector to stop pharmacists from compelling consumers to buy the full blister pack when the quantity needed is much less.
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