Background: Patients often have multiple chronic diseases, use multiple prescriptions and over the counter medications resulting in polypharmacy. Many of them store these medications for future use in their homes, rather than take them as directed by their physician, resulting in a waste of health care resources, and potentially dangerous misuse.
Objectives: This study aimed to investigate the magnitude of medication home hoarding, the exchange of medication with family/friends, families' beliefs about the medication use, source of medication, pharmaceutical class, cost of stored medicine and conditions of storage.
Methods: A structured questionnaire was administered within the homes in two rural areas in Crete.
Results: Forty families participated in the study including 85 individual household members (36 men, and 49 women with an average age of 56.5 ± 24.3 mean ± SD). There were a total of 557 medications recorded, with 324 different medications representing a total value of €8954. The mean quantity of medication boxes stored in each home was 8.5 ± 5.8. Cardiovascular medications accounted for 56% of medications for current use; whereas analgesics (24%), and antibiotics (17%), were the most medications being stored for future use. Exchange of medicine was very common (95%). Beliefs that 'more expensive medication is more effective', and that 'over the counter medications are safe because they were easily available' were expressed.
Conclusions: Medications are being stored in large quantities in these rural areas, with a large percentage of them being wasted or misused.