Background Reducing wastage, including medicines wastage, is a paramount objective in promoting appropriate use of finite resources and preventing negative consequences. A systematic review of the published research on medicines wastage identified a lack of standard terminology and definitions.
Purpose The aim of this study was to apply an expert panel approach to achieve consensus in defining ‘medicines wastage’ in the context of the Maltese population.
Materials and Methods The Delphi technique, a multi-staged survey attempting to achieve consensus, was employed. An expert panel comprising 26 professionals and six patients was recruited and communicated by email. Round 1 had initial open-ended questions on the panel’s understanding of the term ‘medicines wastage’ along with views on factors likely to be associated with wastage. Responses were analysed thematically. In round 2, respondents were requested to rank eight definitions of ‘medicines wastage’ in order of preference. Themes related to associated factors were presented as 5-point Likert statements.
Results The first two rounds of data collection are complete. Twenty-seven consented to participate, 23 of whom have responded to both rounds. Of the eight options for defining ‘medicines wastage’, the highest ranked was ‘…refers to any medicine which expires or remains unused throughout the whole medicines supply chain. It also refers to the unnecessary or inappropriate consumption of medicines by patients, or the unjustified non-adherence to treatment guidelines by healthcare professionals. Medicines wastage imposes a financial burden on patients themselves and the state’s economy and requires adequate education of all people concerned.’ Themes related to factors associated with wastage included: physical/environmental; social/psychological (patient/practitioner); and cultural.
Conclusions This research has generated a definition of ‘medicines wastage’ and a series of associated statements for further investigation. The research process followed in this study can easily be adapted and is therefore also highly relevant to hospital pharmacy practise across Europe.
No conflict of interest.
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