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Umesh Modi is a chartered accountant, and Pamini Jatheeskumar is a chartered certified accountant at Silver Levene...
  Don Lavoie is alcohol programme manager at Public Health England and Gul Root is lead...
Don Lavoie is alcohol programme manager at Public Health England and Gul Root is lead pharmacist, Health and Wellbeing Directorate, Public Health England
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a pharmacy otc imageFebruary 20 2018

A covert study of pharmacies has claimed that some pharmacies are failing to give adequate safety warnings when selling analgesics and cold remedies. The Consumer Association’s Which? magazine has reported that the advice was poor in 11 out of 36 visits. 

Undercover researchers had been going into multiples and independents asking to buy Sudafed Sinus Pressure & Pain and ibuprofen. Which? reported that the ‘customer’ was asked if they were taking any other medicines in half of the transactions, and a quarter were asked if they had had the medication before.

“In a third of visits, our researchers were not warned about the risks of taking the two medicines together,” says the report. “Our undercover researchers spoke to a mix of pharmacists and sales assistants – but you should be able to expect good advice from any member of staff who serves you in a pharmacy.

“According to our expert pharmacist, the poor results were from pharmacies that made no effort to distinguish a pharmacy-only sale from a general one.”

In a second test purchase scenario, the undercover researchers were asking to buy four packs of 16 paracetamol tablets from 42 outlets covering pharmacies, supermarkets and discount stores. In 11 cases, the researcher was able to buy more than the recommended amount in one transaction.

It notes: “The Royal Pharmaceutical Society (RPS) recommends that pharmacists use their discretion for sales of more than 32 tablets – ideally by asking questions or giving dosage warnings before selling more than that amount.”

Supermarkets implemented a two-pack maximum purchase, but Which? claims “it was a slightly different picture at some pharmacies, as a larger number of packets were sold without advice. We’ve rated these visits as needing improvement.”

Ben Clissit, Which? magazine editor, said: “People will be alarmed that some pharmacists are missing out on asking their customers the basics, particularly in light of recent NHS advice to use pharmacies as the first point of call for minor illnesses.”

The General Pharmaceutical Council has issued a statement in response to the report. Duncan Rudkin, Chief Executive of the GPhC said: “This report serves as an important reminder to pharmacy professionals that one of the best ways to ensure the health and safety of patients, particularly in regard to over the counter medicines, is to ask questions through an open and helpful discussion.

“While the report highlights that improvements need to be made across some of the interactions, there are also welcome examples of pharmacy professionals working effectively to support the patients in their care.

“Given this variation, we would remind all pharmacy owners and pharmacy professionals to make sure that they have all the necessary procedures and training in place for all staff to allow for effective patient care. We know that pharmacies are increasingly playing more of a role in managing the health of patients, and particularly in busy periods, adhering to these procedures will become ever more important.”

Links:
Which? report
GPhC statement          

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