How to check with your doctor that you are taking the correct medicine

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It is not uncommon for people to take medicine on a daily basis, but how useful are the medicines we are taking? Around 110 million prescription items dispensed each year in the UK “do not need to be dispensed”, according to new estimates. In other words, it means that 10% of the drugs we take are “unnecessary”.

That’s according to a major new government review on over-prescribing of drugs. This is when patients are given medications they don’t need or want and which in rare cases can harm them, such as potentially addictive prescription drugs that Public Health England’s 2019 report identified that a quarter of adults in England take it. The new review found that over-subscription is a serious problem in healthcare systems around the world.

The NHS has made efforts to end overprescribing drugs in England, but it is still a problem that remains at “unacceptable levels”, according to the report, with government ministers urging GPs to call in millions of people. patients for drug reviews to see if there are any pills they can stop taking.

Dr Keith Ridge, Chief Pharmaceutical Officer for England, led the review and estimates that 10% of the total number of prescription items dispensed by GP practices ‘do not need to be dispensed’ , are inappropriate for a patient’s health or wishes, and could be traded for better alternative treatments.

About 15% of people in England take five or more drugs per day, with 7% of eight or more. With 1.1 billion prescription items dispensed to the community in England in 2020/21, that means up to 110 million could be ‘over-prescribed’.

The review also found that those “disproportionately affected” by the problem include the elderly, people with disabilities, and people of black, Asian and minority descent. The authors warned that overprescribing can affect these groups when different drugs interact negatively with each other.

Health Secretary Sajid Javid said: “This is an extremely important review that will have a lasting impact on people’s lives and improve the way drugs are prescribed. With 15% of people taking five or more drugs per day, in some cases to deal with side effects of another drug, more needs to be done to listen to patients and help clinical teams fight overprescribing.

So are you taking the right medications?

If your doctor has prescribed something for you, your first reaction is to believe it was prescribed for a reason. However, it is important for patients to consider what is prescribed for them and to check that their medications are needed.

“Unnecessary prescriptions are a costly problem and mostly boil down to a patient not taking their medications as planned,” Nabila Chaudhri, director of pharmacy at Babylon’s online general practice service, told HuffPost UK.

“This can be caused by a number of factors, including not understanding the importance of taking a medication, experiencing side effects, or simply being given the wrong instructions for a medication.”

It is important to have an honest relationship with your GP. When you only have a 10-minute appointment, you may feel like time is running out, but share any relevant information that you think your doctor needs to know and don’t feel uncomfortable. to ask questions.

It will also help you make sure you get the right prescription – even if it’s not drugs but what doctors call “social prescription,” which can mean anything from exercise. volunteering in the community.

How do you have a “good” conversation about drugs?

Chaudhri believes that a good conversation about medication explains to the patient the different options they may have and the pros and cons of each. “The prescriber would explore ideas, concerns and expectations about drugs and treatment. This would encourage a patient to be more willing to take medication and to come back and voice their concerns if they experience any problems or side effects. “

It is important to note that doctors are not the only prescribers of drugs today. “Most GP offices will have a pharmacist who can prescribe medication with whom you can also make an appointment,” Chaudhri adds.

If you have any concerns about the medications you are taking, Chaudhri suggests speaking with a pharmacist, either related to your surgery or your local pharmacy, as they often have more time to spend with patients and can check to see if all of your medications. are compatible. .

“A pharmacist is a drug expert: his training is designed to help patients get the most from their drugs,” she says. “This includes tips and tricks to remind you to take them, discuss potential side effects, and ensure the medications work as effectively as possible. “

Chaudhri adds, “Pharmacists are trained to take a non-judgmental approach and to ensure that medications are ‘optimized’. Pharmacists recognize that a drug may not be suitable for everyone and are able to offer sensible and effective alternatives.


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