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Pharmacy inspections

Inspection reports and learning from inspections

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Management of out of date and returned medicines.

Pharmacy type


Pharmacy context

The pharmacy is located in the centre of a large market town that attracts tourists all year round. The pharmacy is open 0900 to 1730 Monday to Saturday. The pharmacy dispenses approximately 6,500 items a month. The pharmacy provides a range of services including dispensing NHS and private prescriptions, Medicine Use Reviews (MURs), New Medicine Services (NMS), Monitored Dosage Systems (MDS), supervised and unsupervised doses of methadone and buprenorphine, health checks such as blood pressure monitoring and diabetic testing, smoking cessation and supplies of over the counter (OTC) products via a minor ailments scheme (MAS).

Relevant standards

  • 4.3 - Medicines and medical devices are: obtained from a reputable source; safe and fit for purpose; stored securely; safeguarded from unauthorized access; supplied to the patient safely; and disposed of safely and securely

Why this is notable practice

Systems are in place to support the safe storage and management of medicines and ensure they are fit for purpose when supplied, including the arrangements for dealing with out of date and waste medicines.

How the pharmacy did this

The pharmacy team complied with standard operating procedures for storage and management of medicines. The date of opening was recorded on liquids with a short shelf life once opened so that such products could be identified by staff and checks done to make sure the product was safe to supply to the patient. Appropriate medicinal waste bins were used for out of date stock and patient returned medication. Out of date and patient returned controlled drugs were clearly separated from in date stock in the CD cabinet. Patient returned controlled drugs were recorded and the appropriate denaturing kits used for the destruction of controlled drugs. When patients brought back medication, the pharmacy team used the opportunity to raise awareness of waste, by explaining that returned medicines had to be destroyed, as a number of patients were under the impression that unused medication could be re-used.

What difference this made to patients

The pharmacy’s arrangements for dealing with out of date, returned and waste medicines protect patients from receiving unsafe medication and help to reduce the level of waste through education of patients.

Highlighted standards

We have identified the standards most likely and least likely to be met in inspections, and highlighted examples of notable practice for each of these standards; to help everyone learn from others and to support continuous improvement:

  1. 1.1 Risk management
  2. 1.2 Reviewing and monitoring the safety of services
  3. 4.2 Safe and effective service delivery
  4. 4.3 Sourcing and safe, secure management of medicines and devices
  5. 2.2 Staff skills and qualifications