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Found 121 results
  1. Event
    This webinar hosted by the Patients Association provides an opportunity to hear about the new Pharmacy First Service. Speakers include: David Webb, Chief Pharmaceutical Officer for England Pallavi Dawda, Head of Delivery, Clinical Strategy Community Pharmacy, NHS England Leighton Colegrave, member of Hertfordshire and West Essex ICB's Patient Engagement Forum Tunde Sokoya, community pharmacist, Essex Lindsey Fairbrother, community pharmacist, Derbyshire. The Patients Association Chief Executive Rachel Power will chair the webinar. Register for free.
  2. News Article
    Codeine linctus, an oral solution or syrup licensed to treat dry cough in adults, is to be reclassified to a prescription-only medicine due to the risk of abuse, dependency and overdose, the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) has announced. Codeine linctus is an opioid medicine which has previously been available to buy in pharmacies under the supervision of a pharmacist but will now only be available on prescription following an assessment by a healthcare professional. Since 2019, there have been increasing reports in the media of codeine linctus being misused as an ingredient in a recreational drink, commonly referred to as ‘Purple Drank’. The decision to reclassify the medicine has been made following a consultation with independent experts, healthcare professionals and patients. 992 responses were received. The consultation was launched by the MHRA after Yellow Card reports indicated instances of the medicine being abused, rather than for its intended use as a cough suppressant. Dr Alison Cave, MHRA Chief Safety Officer, said: "Patient safety is our top priority. Codeine linctus is an effective medicine for long term dry cough, but as it is an opioid, its misuse and abuse can have major health consequences." Alternative non-prescription cough medicines are available for short-term coughs to sooth an irritated throat, including honey and lemon mixtures and cough suppressants. Patients are urged to speak to a pharmacist for advice and not to buy codeine linctus from an unregistered website as it could be dangerous. Read full story Source: MHRA, 20 February 2024
  3. Community Post
    Have you (or a loved one) ever been prescribed medication that you were then unable to get hold of at the pharmacy? Was there an impact on your health (physical and mental)? Were you told the reason for it not being available? Was the issue resolved? If so, how long did it take? If you are still impacted by medication supply issues, have you been told when you will be able to access them again? To help us understand how these issues impact the lives of patients and families, please share your experience and insights in the comments below. You'll need to register with the hub first, its free and easy to do. We would also like to hear from pharmacists working in community or hospital settings, and others who have insights to share on this issue. What barriers and challenges have you seen around medication availability? Is there anything that can be done to improve wider systems or processes? Please comment below or email us at content@pslhub.org
  4. News Article
    Community Pharmacy Scotland (CPS) is calling for all pharmacy staff to be allowed to prepare and assemble medication without requiring supervision from a pharmacist or pharmacy technician. Its comments came in its response to a Department of Health and Social Care consultation on pharmacy supervision, published on 7 December 2023, which sets out proposals to amend the Medicines Act 1968 and The Human Medicines Regulations 2012. The consultation includes proposals to enable pharmacists to authorise pharmacy technicians to carry out, or supervise others carrying out, the preparation, assembly, dispensing, sale and supply of medicine; to enable pharmacists to authorise any member of the pharmacy team to hand out checked and bagged prescriptions in the absence of a pharmacist; and to allow pharmacy technicians to supervise the preparation, assembly and dispensing of medicines in hospital aseptic facilities In its response, the CPS disagreed with the first of these proposals, arguing that “the preparation and assembly of [pharmacy] and [prescription-only] medications can be safely carried out from a registered pharmacy premises, without requiring supervision by a Responsible Pharmacist or an authorised pharmacy technician”. CPS also said there is “a major flaw in the logic” of the government proposal because “it relies heavily on individuals rather than on safe systems”, making the proposed new way of working “vulnerable to changes in personal circumstance”. “The environment, technology, training, conditions and [standard operating procedures] in the community pharmacy setting have a bigger effect on safety of preparation and assembly than supervision by an individual,” the response said. Read full story Source: The Pharmaceutical Journal, 12 February 2024
  5. News Article
    Treatments for seven conditions such as sore throats and earaches are now available directly from pharmacists, without the need to visit a doctor. The Pharmacy First scheme will allow most chemists in England to issue prescriptions to patients without appointments or referrals. NHS England says it will free up around 10 million GP appointments a year. Pharmacy groups welcome the move but there is concern about funding and recent chemist closures. Pharmacists can carry out confidential consultations and advise whether any treatment, including antibiotics, are needed for the list of seven minor ailments. Patients needing more specialist or follow-up care will be referred onwards. Read full story Source: BBC News, 31 January 2024
  6. News Article
    An unprecedented medicines shortage in the NHS is endangering lives, pharmacists have said, as unpublished figures reveal that the number of products in short supply has doubled in two years. A treatment for controlling epileptic seizures was the latest to be added on Wednesday to a UK drugs shortage list that includes treatments for conditions ranging from cancer to schizophrenia and type 2 diabetes. Causes of the crisis are thought to include the plummeting purchasing value of the pound since the Brexit referendum, which reduces the NHS’s ability to source medicines abroad, and a government policy of taxing manufacturers. According to Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) figures provided to the British Generic Manufacturers Association, there were 111 drugs on a shortages list on 30 October last year and 96 on 18 December, with supply notifications issued for a further 10 treatments to NHS providers in the UK since then. It amounts to a 100% increase in shortages compared with January 2022, with pharmacists and health charities claiming the conditions of some patients were deteriorating as a result. Delyth Morgan, the chief executive of Breast Cancer Now, said her organisation had been contacted over the past 12 months by several patients unable to source the medicines they needed to control the spread of their disease. She said: “Last year many people shared with us, via Breast Cancer Now’s helpline, that they’d been facing difficulties accessing their hormone treatment including letrozole, anastrozole and tamoxifen, causing them huge worry and anxiety. Trying to track down a treatment by travelling to a number of different pharmacies is an added burden for patients at an already difficult time. “It may also sometimes be that certain brands of drugs are out of stock and people may have to switch to another brand or different drug. In the worst case someone may have a period of time without the medication, a drug which could help reduce the risk of their breast cancer coming back or spreading.” Read full story Source: The Guardian, 14 January 2024
  7. News Article
    Patients' lives are being put at risk because it is too easy to buy prescription-only medicines from online pharmacies, a leading pharmacist says. A BBC investigation found 20 online pharmacies selling restricted drugs without checks - such as GP approval. In total, over 1,600 various prescription-only pills were bought during the investigation entering false information without challenge. Regulator the General Pharmaceutical Council says extra checks are needed when selling some drugs online. The BBC's findings highlight the "wild west" of buying medicines on the web, says Thorrun Govind, a pharmacist, health lawyer and former chair of the Royal Pharmaceutical Society. "The current guidance basically tells pharmacies to be robust, but do that in your own way, and we know that under this current system, patients have died," she says. The parents of a woman who died in 2020, after accidentally overdosing on medicines she bought online, are among those calling for stricter rules. Katie Corrigan, from St Erth in Cornwall, had developed an addiction to painkillers after experiencing neck pain. "Katie needed help, she didn't need more medication," says her mum, Christine Taylor. Her GP had stopped supplying the drug after realising she had been allowed to request new prescriptions prematurely and been prescribed too much. Instead, Katie, 38, was able to buy a painkiller and a drug used to treat anxiety from multiple online pharmacies without notifying her GP. The coroner at Katie's inquest confirmed her GP had not been contacted by any of the pharmacies to check the drug was safe for her. In his final report, he said the safety controls were inadequate. Read full story Source: BBC News, 5 January 2024
  8. News Article
    Almost one in four people have bought medicine online or at a pharmacy to treat their illness after failing to see a GP face to face, according to a UK survey underlining the rise of do-it-yourself treatment. Nearly one in five (19%) have gone to A&E seeking urgent medical treatment for the same reason, the research commissioned by the Liberal Democrats shows. One in six (16%) people agreed when asked by the pollsters Savanta ComRes if the difficulty of getting an in-person family doctor appointment meant they had “carried out medical treatment on yourself or asked somebody else who is not a medical professional to do so”. Ed Davey, the leader of the Liberal Democrats, said delays and difficulty in accessing GP appointments constituted a national scandal, and face-to-face GP appointments had become “almost extinct” in some areas of the country. He said: “We now have the devastating situation where people are left treating themselves or even self-prescribing medication because they can’t see their local GP.” Dr Richard Van Mellaerts, the deputy chair of the British Medical Association’s GP committee in England, said: “While self-care and consulting other services such as pharmacies and NHS 111 will often be the right thing to do for many minor health conditions, it is worrying if patients feel forced into inappropriate courses of action because they are struggling to book an appointment for an issue that requires the attention of a GP or a member of practice staff.” Read full story Source: The Guardian, 2 January 2024
  9. Content Article
    A service providing bilingual medication information is helping to reduce healthcare inequalities and medical errors. Pharmacies across London are benefitting from the support of Written Medicine; a service providing bilingual dispensing labels in patients’ language of choice.
  10. Content Article
    Community pharmacies in Sweden have changed during the COVID-19 pandemic, and new routines have been introduced to address the needs of customers and staff and to reduce the risk of spreading infection. Burnout has been described among staff possibly due to a changed working climate. However, little research has focused on the pandemic's effect on patient safety in community pharmacies. The aim of this study was to examine pharmacists' perceptions of the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on workload, working environment, and patient safety in community pharmacies.
  11. News Article
    Almost half a million women will be able to get the contraceptive pill from pharmacies in England, from next month, without the need for a GP appointment. Treatments for urinary infections and other common conditions will also be on offer under the Pharmacy First scheme. NHS England said it was a safe and common-sense way of making NHS services easier for patients to use. New Health and Social Care Secretary Victoria Atkins said the changes meant "more options for women when making a choice about their preferred contraception" and would free up GP appointments. From February, pharmacists who successfully apply to join the scheme will be able to offer advice and treatment, including antibiotics, for seven common conditions: sinusitis sore throat earache infected insect bites impetigo shingles urinary tract infection in women. Read full story Source: BBC News, 16 November 2023
  12. News Article
    Britain faces record shortages of medicines amid a row between drug makers and the NHS over payments. Patients face issues getting hold of drugs for epilepsy and ADHD, as well as hormone replacement therapy (HRT) for the menopause. A total of 111 drugs are currently facing supply issues, according to the British Generic Manufacturers Association (BGMA). This is the highest level on record and more than double the number of drugs facing shortages at the start of 2022. The BGMA blamed an NHS drugs levy for the supply issues, saying it was discouraging pharmaceutical companies from supplying the health service. Dr Leyla Hannbeck, chief executive of the Association of Independent Multiple Pharmacies, said pharmacists were “spending long hours in the day trying to source medicines for patients and this is on top of all the other activities they do in a busy pharmacy”. She said: “Our pharmacy teams see firsthand the anxiety and stress experienced by patients caused by medicines shortages.” Shortages have also led to more abuse and aggression towards pharmacists, she said. Read full story (paywalled) Source: The Telegraph,
  13. Content Article
    A new report from the Public Policy Projects (PPP) calls on integrated care systems (ICSs) to harness the unique capabilities of the pharmacy sector and implement a pharmacy-led transformation of healthcare delivery. The report, Driving true value from medicines and pharmacy, is chaired by Yousaf Ahmad, ICS Chief Pharmacist and Director of Medicines Optimisation at Frimley Health and Care Integrated Care System, and is the culmination of three roundtable events attended by key stakeholders from across the pharmacy sector and ICS leadership. Insight from these roundtables has also been accepted as evidence in the Health and Care Select Committee’s recent inquiry into the future of the pharmacy sector.
  14. Content Article
    Most pharmaceutical products can cause adverse consequences of varying severity and frequency. Authors of this article, published by Drug Safety, look at issues relating to the monitoring the safety of over the counter medicines.
  15. Content Article
    There are supply disruptions affecting various strengths of the following medications which are licensed for the treatment of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD): methylphenidate (Equasym® XL) capsules, methylphenidate (Xaggitin XL® , Concerta XL® , Xenidate XL® ) prolonged-release tablets, lisdexamfetamine (Elvanse® ) capsules, and guanfacine (Intuniv® ) prolonged-release tablets. This is a safety critical and complex National Patient Safety Alert. Implementation should be co-ordinated by an executive lead (or equivalent role in organisations without executive boards) and supported by clinical leaders in pharmacy, community pharmacy, GP practices, mental health services and those working in the health and justice sector.
  16. Content Article
    Standardising community pharmacy information so it can be shared digitally should reduce the burden on GPs and lead to safer, more personalised care, writes Stephen Goundrey-Smith. The Professional Record Standards Body’s (PRSB) Community Pharmacy Standard enables information to be recorded in the community pharmacy and sent to the person’s GP and all the services covered by the England Community Pharmacy Contractual Framework. Having access to better information will allow the community pharmacy team to take on a greater range of clinical services and reduce the burden on GPs and other parts of the health and care system. It will also raise the profile of the clinical contribution that community pharmacists make to the wider NHS.
  17. Content Article
    The Department of Health and Social Care is consulting jointly with the Department of Health Northern Ireland to seek your views on amending the Human Medicines Regulations 2012 to enable pharmacy technicians to supply and administer medicines using patient group directions (PGDs). This proposal supports the ambitions of NHS systems across the UK to maximise the use of the skill mix within pharmacy teams, enabling them to meet more of the health needs of their local populations. Deadline: 29 September 2023.
  18. Content Article
    People rely on prescription medication to treat and manage their conditions and keep well. Based on analysis of public feedback from local Healthwatch and from a webform on pharmacies, this blog by Healthwatch England highlights the challenges people face when trying to get prescription medication. It outlines the following key issues: Shortages of medication Delays in getting repeat prescriptions issued Shortages of staff Closed pharmacies
  19. News Article
    Sharri Shaw walked out of the CVS on Vermont Avenue in South Los Angeles in 2019 believing she had a prescription for the pain reliever acetaminophen. Instead the bottle held a medicine to treat high blood pressure, a problem she did not have. Shaw began taking the pills, not learning of the mistake until six days later when a CVS employee arrived at her home, according to a lawsuit she filed last year. The employee told her not to take the tablets, the lawsuit said, before leaving the correct prescription at her door. The mistake, she said, left her stunned. Shaw’s experience is far from an isolated event. California pharmacies make an estimated 5 million errors every year, according to the state’s Board of Pharmacy. Officials at the regulatory board say they can only estimate the number of errors because pharmacies are not required to report them. Most of the mistakes that California officials have discovered, according to citations issued by the board and reviewed by The Times, occurred at chain pharmacies such as CVS and Walgreens, where a pharmacist may fill hundreds of prescriptions during a shift, while juggling other tasks such as giving vaccinations, calling doctors’ offices to confirm prescriptions and working the drive-through. Christopher Adkins, a pharmacist who worked at CVS, and then at Vons pharmacies until March, said that management policies at the big chains have resulted in understaffed stores and overworked staff. “At this point it’s completely unsafe,” he said. Read full story Source: Los Angeles Times, 5 September 2023
  20. News Article
    A group of potent synthetic opioids called nitazenes have been linked to a rise in overdoses and deaths in people who use drugs, primarily heroin, in England over the past two months, drug regulators have warned. The Office for Health Improvements and Disparities has issued a National Patient Safety Alert on potent synthetic opioids implicated in heroin overdoses and deaths. In the past 8 weeks there has been an elevated number of overdoses (with some deaths) in people who use drugs, primarily heroin, in many parts of the country (reports are geographically widespread, with most regions affected but only a few cities or towns in each region). Testing in some of these cases has found nitazenes, a group of potent synthetic opioids. Nitazenes have been identified previously in this country, but their use has been more common in the USA. Their potency and toxicity are uncertain but perhaps similar to, or more than fentanyl, which is about 100x morphine. The National Patient Safety Alert provides further background and clinical information and actions for providers.
  21. News Article
    Concerns codeine-based cough syrup could be addictive and have serious health consequences have led the UK medicines safety regulator to consider stopping its sale over the counter. The Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) is asking the public for their views on changing codeine linctus - which is a syrup with the active ingredient codeine phosphate and is used to treat a dry cough - to a prescription-only medicine. This comes in the wake of multiple reports to the regulator that the medicine is instead being used recreationally for its opioid effects. Since 2018, the MHRA has received 116 reports of recreational drug abuse of, dependence on, and/or withdrawal from codeine medicines, including codeine linctus. Dr Alison Cave, MHRA Chief Safety Officer, said this can have a severe impact on people’s health. She said: “Codeine linctus is an effective medicine, but as it is an opioid, its misuse and abuse can have major health consequences.” Pharmacists are also “significantly” concerned, especially about the overdose risk. Read full story Source: The Independent, 18 July 2023
  22. News Article
    The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved the first over-the-counter contraceptive pill, allowing millions of women and girls in the country to buy contraception without a prescription at a time when some states have sought to restrict access to birth control and abortion. FDA officials said on Thursday it cleared Perrigo’s Opill – an every day, prescription-only hormonal contraception first approved in 1973 – to be sold over-the-counter. The pill will be available in stores and online in the first quarter of next year, and there will be no age restrictions on sales. The regulatory approval paves the way for people to purchase the pill without a prescription for the first time since oral contraceptives became widely available in the 1960s. “Today’s approval marks the first time a nonprescription daily oral contraceptive will be an available option for millions of people in the United States,” Patrizia Cavazzoni, the director of the FDA’s center for drug evaluation and research, said in a statement. “When used as directed, daily oral contraception is safe and is expected to be more effective than currently available nonprescription contraceptive methods in preventing unintended pregnancy.” Read full story Source: The Guardian, 13 July 2023
  23. Content Article
    US endocrinologist Richard Plotzker shares a recent experience of buying over-the-counter medication from a grocery store. When he opened the outer packaging, the blister packs were empty apart from one pill in each being resealed by scotch tape. Richard called the manufacturer and returned the medication for investigation. He describes how the incident highlights the need to be vigilant about any unusual appearance in the packaging of medication.
  24. News Article
    Nearly a third of community pharmacies in Wales should be able to prescribe medicines for NHS patients, including antibiotics, by the end of this year, health officials say. It is the first new service of its kind in the UK. The aim is to take the pressure off GPs at a time of increasing strain on the NHS. Scotland has adopted a similar approach but England and Northern Ireland have not so far. Community pharmacies in Wales are allowed to offer prescriptions of medicines for acute illnesses such as urinary tract and respiratory infections, gout and chronic pain, as well as emergency contraception - if they have a pharmacist who has had extra training for prescribing. For most patients, that will be more convenient and avoid waits for GP appointments. The plan is to roll out the service progressively across Wales, building on local schemes already in place. Local doctors in general practice have welcomed the new policy. Dr Penny Coyle said each week about 25 patients with minor ailments were referred to the pharmacist, saving 100 GP appointments a month and giving doctors more time to visit seriously ill patients in their homes. "We are finding that demand is outweighing capacity and so anything that relieves some of the pressure on general practice is very welcome," she said. Association of Independent Multiple Pharmacies chief executive Dr Leyla Hannbeck said: "Pharmacist prescribers can help massively when you think about the shortages and the HRT issues, for example, that we are currently facing - having a pharmacist prescriber being able to prescribe alternative medicines without the patient having to wait to see the GP." Read full story Source: BBC News, 27 April 2022
  25. News Article
    Pharmacy staff in England are facing growing abuse and aggression from patients frustrated that drug shortages mean they cannot get their usual medications, a survey reveals. The hostility, including swearing and spitting, comes as availability of medicines is becoming more uncertain as a result of Brexit, the Covid pandemic and ingredient supply problems. Hormone replacement therapy drugs are in short supply in many places, affecting women undergoing menopause, for example. Half of pharmacists and counter staff say the unpredictability is causing problems for customers managing their health, according to research by the Pharmaceutical Services Negotiating Committee (PSNC), which represents community pharmacies in England. The PSNC’s survey of 1,132 staff from and 418 bosses of 5,000 pharmacies found: 75% of pharmacies have seen patients turn aggressive when told they cannot have the medication they have been prescribed. 49% of staff say patient abuse is undermining their mental wellbeing. 51% believe supply chain issues affect patients every day. “It is really worrying to hear that pharmacy staff are so routinely facing aggression from patients,” said Janet Morrison, the PSNC’s chief executive. “Pharmacists tell us anecdotally that this can include verbal abuse, swearing, spitting and threatening to report staff to regulators. “Many community pharmacies are having to deal with medicine supply issues on a daily basis. This adds pressures on to already busy pharmacy teams and can also be worrying for patients if they have to wait longer for the medicines that they need.” Patients were left “frustrated and inconvenienced” by drug shortages, she added. Read full story Source: The Guardian, 25 April 2022
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