Dangers of similar medication

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Re the Action Desk article on Tuesday, May 8 – Dangers of similar medication.

My husband and myself too have a similar problem with our local chemist who does not always seem to understand that when someone is taking a certain number of tablets per day to manage their condition or illness, it is extremely important to have the same type of tablets you are used to.

In one prescription I went for recently, I received two different-sized and coloured packets of the same drug Pravastatin for myself. In my usual pack the tablet was a white round one. In the new pack it was more a squarish tablet and vaguely peach coloured. Not a big problem if you only have that one tablet to take each day. This frequent change in medication packs/suppliers is often due to cost-cutting exercises by pharmacies. They buy where the drug is cheapest.

My husband, at one point a few years ago, was on 30 tablets a day to manage his condition/illness and his GP especially wrote the prescription in such a way that he should receive each time a named drug in a calendar pack to avoid confusion.

When I made an objection once at the chemists that he was being given a different looking pack and probably a different looking tablet/capsule too, the assistant asked me if he was forgetful. A polite way of asking if he had dementia perhaps!

No he does not; he is meticulously methodical with his medication but when putting them out to take each morning and evening it is very easy to be confused when faced with a different shape or colour of tablet, or it even being in capsule form rather than tablet form. Especially if you are feeling even more unwell or in more severe pain that day.

Some pharmacists do take this on board and try to please; others are dismissive with remarks that it is only the same product. It may be the same product but we need pharmacists to understand our needs better and be consistent. No excuses please.

Recently, his latest prescription was not the calendar pack his GP wishes him to have, but it is also for the Polish market. We were told that is how it will be in future.

Surprisingly, after having a conversation some time ago with the head office of this particular pharmacy it appears it is cheaper to buy in items that were meant for the export market. Now how does that work?

Why should we have to put up with these inconsistencies when it is important for the patient, who may also be struggling with chronic pain/illness, not to be confused and treated so dismissively?

While it is very useful for some people, we do not all wish to have our medication put in Nomad boxes and labelled for us. After all it is important that we are fully aware of what medications we are on and what amount we take daily in case we go into hospital in an emergency situation. Or at least while we are still able to take responsibility for ourselves.

Annoyed patient