Should pharmacists be sent to check home medicine cupboards?


In response to the following article:


“Tramadol overdose death raises questions over repeat prescriptions.”


Dear PIP Editor,


I do not think patients are being put at risk due to how repeat prescription services are being managed. I must say that I do not agree with the experienced specialist mental health nurse in this case when she said the excessive accumulation of prescription medication is a common occurrence.

We need to consider what reasonable supervision is.


Managed repeat prescriptions have been being phased out for some time now and if stockpiling is still an issue, what else can be done?


Should we be sending healthcare professionals to check peoples’ cupboards?


Maybe a national re-education of patients would help?


Something along the lines of:


“If you end up not needing them these can’t be re-used and will be binned.”


Because there’s an awful lot of people who are shocked when they are told that pharmacies cannot re-use their returned medicines. Perhaps the following public messaging narrative could help:


“You are wasting money that could be used to build a school in a deprived neighbourhood.”


I do not believe we will ever be able to fully reduce the chances of this type of case happening again. The onus is on the patient to order only when needed. A lot of patients still order using the 28-day cycle 5 days before their prescription is due. But for ‘when required’ medicines or medicines they have decided to stop taking there is really no way for us to know.


Patients now request their own meds either by phoning the pharmacy (we’d then email the request to their GPs or drop off printed A4 sheet to surgery), in person at the surgery or via the NHS online service.


I am a locum now and the last time I worked in a pharmacy that did managed repeats was 2017.

Yours etc.




This pharmacist would like to remain anonymous.



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PIP editor

A pharmacist led training provider.

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