Canberra Hospital.

Canberra Hospital. Photo: Rohan Thomson

THE amount of expired prescription drugs thrown out at Canberra Hospital has jumped sixfold in the past four years with more than $65,000 of medications dumped this year.

But a spokeswoman from Canberra Hospital said there was very little waste, with the total value of pharmaceutical purchases since 2009 totalling $126 million.

''The value of expired stock represents approximately 0.1 per cent of total pharmaceutical expenditure,'' she said.

Almost $150,000 of out-of-date medications have been destroyed since 2009, with a $35,000 increase in 2011. So far this year $67,000 of prescription drugs have expired, but in 2009 this figure was just $11,707.

A spokeswoman said the Canberra Hospital Pharmacy ordered medications when needed.

''Pharmaceutical inventory management is based on a just-in-time system such that common-use medicines are turned over within a short period of time, with an average of two to four weeks' of stock held at Canberra Hospital.

''Some life-saving essential medicines, such as antidotes and antivenoms, may not be required before they reach their expiry date and clinical practice demands change from time to time.''

Some of the expensive drugs that reached their expiry date included:

Syneupristine-dalfoprisitn, a highly specialised antimicrobial agent that was the only antimicrobial effective for a highly resistant bacteria. It has now withdrawn from the Australian market.

Esmolol, a life saving antihypertensive used during surgery when blood pressure is extremely high.

Alprostadil injections. Stocks are held for premature infants who are born with a life-threatening condition of the heart.

Amphotericin, an extremely toxic medicine used to treat life-threatening fungal infections in cancer patients. It has now been withdrawn from the market.

Tiger snake antivenom. Two vials.

ACT Health said it could not provide a list of all dumped medications as the individual price agreements were confidential.

DOWN THE DRAIN

Value of Canberra Hospital’s expired medication:

2009      $11,707.23
2010      $14,174.07
2011      $49,796.25
2012      $67,967.35
Total      $143,644.90