Pfizer is launching a new campaign to boost awareness of the importance of taking medicines properly, to help secure better treatment outcomes for patients as well as save the National Health Service some much needed cash.

Via its Healthy Partnerships* initiative, the drugmaker is working to position pharmacists as medicines experts able to help people understand the importance of taking them as directed, as well as provide support to improve adherence.

These are crucial factors in getting the most effective use of medicines and unlocking their potential value; it is estimated that unused medicines cost NHS £300 million each year in England alone.

Moreover, the extra drain on the health service by people failing to take their medicines as directed and therefore missing their full benefit is thought to cost more than £500 million, according to a 2010 report by the Department of Health.

The report concluded that, while reduce medicines wastage could undoubtedly generate savings, greater returns would be achieved by encouraging patients to take their medications more effectively.

NCB to oversee

Medicines optimisation will now fall under remit of the NHS Commissioning Board, and it has already identified pharmacists as playing a leading role in driving improvement in this area, the group noted.

Pfizer's campaign is due to roll out to the general public next month.

*The Pfizer Healthy Partnerships initiative was set up to offer commercial and professional support to community pharmacists in delivering healthcare and new services to patients.

The scheme aims to help pharmacists achieve specific objectives within the pharmacy contractual framework, achieve better outcomes for patients, and grow business.