Pharmacy World and Science

, Volume 28, Issue 6, pp 352–358 | Cite as

Reasons why medicines are returned to Swedish pharmacies unused

  • Anders B. E. EkedahlEmail author



To identify the reasons and their relative importance why medicines are returned to Swedish pharmacies unused.


A random sample of the pharmacies in Sweden.


Interviews using a semi-structered interview form with pharmacy customers returning unused medicines to the pharmacy.

Main outcome measure:

Reasons given by patients/relatives/carers for returning unused medicines to the pharmacy.


The four main reasons for returning unused medicines to the pharmacy were: (1) the medicines were too old, (2) the user had died, (3) there was no need for the medicine anymore, and (4) therapy changes. These reasons made up 75% of all reported reasons.


Hoarding or over-supply of prescribed medicines may explain a large part of the volume of medicines that remain unused. Actions aiming to reduce waste of prescribed medicines ought to focus on those patients who contribute to a substantial part of all unused medicines.


Drugs Drug waste Medicines Pharmaceuticals Pharmacies Sweden Unused medicines 



The author acknowledges the work of the interviewers at the 59 participating pharmacies as well as the assistance from Mr Örjan Åkeren, of The National Corporation of Swedish Pharmacies, with the data on licensed drugs in Sweden. Funding of the study: The study was supported financially through a grant from “Stiftelsen Apoteket AB:s fond för forskning och studier i hälsoekonomi och samhällsfarmaci”.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2007

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.R&D DepartmentThe National Corporation of Swedish PharmaciesMalmöSweden

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