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We need to find safer drugs for patients

Seeing the headline ‘Everyday drugs raise the risk of dementia’ in The Times made me realise that we, as pharmacists, must look more into this subject.

I’m sure most pharmacists would agree that we chose our profession to help people, not to make them worse.

In the past year, there were 66,000 drugs overdose-related deaths in the United States. The persistent rise in overdose deaths over the past few years has largely been attributed to opioid addiction and the growing prevalence of fentanyl in the illegal drug market.

However, The Times wasn’t talking about opioid addiction, but the hundreds of thousands of people in the UK who are routinely taking medicines that increase their risk of dementia by up to a third.

And a BBC Radio 4 programme, ‘A Deadly Prescription’, broadcast in February 2018, reported that a 21-year-old died from taking her prescription drugs.

We know that virtually all drugs available on prescription have side effects, and we let our customers know these. But wouldn’t it be better if we could utilise drugs that didn’t have these side effects or sometimes cause death?

There is no point in giving people medicines if there is some chance that the patient will get worse. We have to get very clever and find healthy medicines of which we, as pharmacists, can be proud.

Sheila Gaiman

Member of the Royal Pharmaceutical Society

Citation: The Pharmaceutical Journal DOI: 10.1211/PJ.2018.20204882

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