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Community pharmacy

Over a quarter of patients put health at risk by ignoring medication advice from pharmacists, warns NPA

Survey results show that patients are willing to ignore pharmacy advice with regards to medication side effects, with 15% saying they would lie to pharmacy staff to get hold of a medicine. 

Patients are putting their health at risk by ignoring pharmacists’ advice when taking common medicines, the National Pharmacy Association (NPA) has warned.

A survey of 1,047 patients conducted across the UK for the NPA in September 2018, revealed that 41% believe that the information provided on medicine leaflets exaggerate the risks of side effects.

As a result, over a quarter of patients (27%) said they would buy a medicine from elsewhere even if a pharmacist advised them not to take it.

Meanwhile, 15% said they have lied about their health to a member of staff in a pharmacy to get hold of a medicine.

Leyla Hannbeck, director of pharmacy at the NPA

Source: National Pharmacy Association

Leyla Hannbeck, director of pharmacy at the NPA, warns that while medicines have the power to heal, they can also cause harm and should not be used inappropriately

Leyla Hannbeck, director of pharmacy at the NPA, said: “If used inappropriately, medicines have the power to harm as well as to heal, even medicines you can pick up from a supermarket shelf or a pound shop.

“It’s important to take professional advice and, in particular, to have a full and frank dialogue with your local pharmacist.”

She added that patients should “feel free to challenge” advice from a pharmacist, who then “should welcome the opportunity to reassure” patients and discuss alternatives.

Publishing the survey, the NPA said at least 6% of emergency readmissions to hospital are caused by adverse drug reactions, costing the NHS an estimated £98.5m per year.

This comes after research published in May 2018 suggested medication-related harm in older people could be costing the NHS around £400m per year, owing to hospital readmissions.

Rachel Power, chief executive of the Patients Association, a charity dedicated to supporting the rights and interests of all patients and their families, said: “Having a good understanding of how their medicines work helps patients take an active role in their own care.

“Patients should give full and clear information to their pharmacist and be supported to demand full and clear advice in return.”

Citation: The Pharmaceutical Journal DOI: 10.1211/PJ.2018.20205707

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  • Leyla Hannbeck, director of pharmacy at the NPA

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