In hospitals, schemes already exist to re-use medicines supplied and maintained under the control of the hospital. Those medicines are under the supervision of health care professionals, such that they can safely be re-supplied against the prescription or direction of an authorised prescriber for another patient where they are no longer needed for the original patient.
Guidance from the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence for managing medicines in care homes recommends that care home providers must ensure that medicines prescribed for a resident are not used by another resident.
The quality, integrity and safety of medicines are paramount and the best way to assure this is for pharmacies to supply medicines obtained through the regulated supply chain, appropriately labelled for individual patients to be used only by those patients.
However, in the unprecedented COVID-19 situation, consideration is being given by the Department and NHS England and NHS Improvement for the use of unwanted medicines in certain specified circumstances, for example, end of life care. It is currently not envisaged that legislative changes will be required to support such a change in practice.