New Medicines Service
EDP column by Dr Ketan Dhatariya

“My GP has started me on some new tablets, my pharmacist now says they want to discuss these with me, why is this?"

In England alone, it has been estimated that 15 million people have a long term condition. This means, having a condition that cannot currently be cured, but can be controlled by medicines or other treatments. In 2009/10, over 800 million prescriptions were dispensed by pharmacies, and it has been suggested that between 30 and 50 percent of all medicines given to patients are not taken as recommended. This means that despite all of the advances in modern medicine, a large part of them are not to be passed on to the individuals. This means that important health gains are not being realised.

A large part of this failure is non–adherence. This means people do not take the medicines as they have been prescribed – or that they do not take the medicines at all. Often people do not tell their doctors or their pharmacists that they are not taking the medicine for fear that they will be ‘told off’. But the reasons for not taking them are often because people do not understand why they are taking them, or because of fear of side effects. Those information sheets found in the packets of medicine have to give a lot of information, but can often be quite frightening.

One of the simple things that can be done to improve the numbers of people taking their medicines as prescribed is a simple explanation. We all know that GP’s are often pushed for time, and may not be able to spend as much time with you as they (and you!) might like. With this in mind, your pharmacy now has the ability to give you some time to go through your medications with you. These have been termed the New Medicine Service and the Medicines Use Review.

You will have the time to spend some time in private with your pharmacist who can then take you though each of the medicines you are currently on and tell you what you are taking them for, how to take them. They will also be able to tell you if any symptoms you are experiencing are due to side effects of the medication, or due to any interactions between medicines. Often they will be able to put your mind at ease. If necessary, they will let your GP know if you are having problems.