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Community pharmacy is the safety net for risky prescribing

In response to The Pharmaceutical Journal’s editorial, ‘Securing the best deal for pharmacy’, published in May 2018, I agree that community pharmacy has a big part to play in reducing drug errors.

Community pharmacy teams across the country have already demonstrated that they can improve gastrointestinal safety for patients prescribed non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs). Not only can they drive improvement in the new safety metrics on coprescribing proton pump inhibitors (PPIs), but also we know that gastrointestinal bleeds happen because patients do not take their PPI (for all sorts of reasons), even though they have been prescribed. Additionally, some people inadvertently take two NSAIDs, one prescribed and one that they have purchased. The patient focus and a wider medicines optimisation agenda, including issues that community pharmacy can address, are much needed.

I would also argue that community pharmacy is the safety net for many patients when other systems fail. We can run the searches in general practices, and get prescribers reviewing and improving (all important). Community pharmacists pick up the ones that slip through, and act as the backstop keeping patients safe.

Carina Livingstone, director, medicines use and safety, NHS Specialist Pharmacy Service

Citation: The Pharmaceutical Journal DOI: 10.1211/PJ.2018.20204978

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