Medicines waste: We should focus on prevention rather than cure

By Neal Patel, Royal Pharmaceutical Society, Head of Corporate Communications

Throwing away medicines rather than using them as intended is a huge problem.

At time when the NHS is having to find £20 billion pounds worth of savings it’s absolutely right that we should all focus on areas on efficiency which feel like (financial) gain with very little, (service loss) pain.

The York Health Economics Consortium, and The School of Pharmacy, University of London, founds that in England in 2009 NHS primary and community care prescription medicines waste cost £300 million.

That is a lot of hip operations. Read more Medicines waste: We should focus on prevention rather than cure

Are parents inadvertently harming their children with paracetamol?

By Steve Tomlin, Consultant Pharmacist, paediatrics

Paracetamol is the most commonly used drug to treat children, often without the help of a healthcare professional.  There are currently 95 products available on the market. With this wide spread availability of paracetamol products, it is feasible that parents and careers could inadvertently administer more than the recommended daily dose of paracetamol to their child. A new YouGov survey recently commissioned by the Royal Pharmaceutical Society shows that only a quarter of parents know which children medicines, out of those most commonly used, contain paracetamol. This means that they may unintentionally be giving their child simultaneous doses of paracetamol. The risk of accidental overdose is even higher in a busy world where a child is commonly looked after by more than one person and in different settings and carers may be unaware that a dose has already been given.

Whilst taking paracetamol at the recommended dose and frequency is safe, evidence shows that only small increases of just an extra dose a day over the course of three days can potentially cause liver damage. Read more Are parents inadvertently harming their children with paracetamol?

Ovarian cancer – Are you aware of the symptoms

by Justine Fox, Volunteer at Ovacome, National Ovarian Cancer Charity

I was diagnosed with Stage 3(c) ovarian cancer (stage 4 is most advanced) in October 2006, aged 35. I had surgery and chemotherapy and am very fortunate to have been in remission since May 2007. My symptoms actually began 5 years prior to my diagnosis.

In 2001 I noticed abdominal bloating and a change in bowel habit (I was rarely ‘normal’). I thought this was due to diet and so began to cut certain foods out; unfortunately nothing changed.
In 2003 I developed pain and tenderness on the right side of my lower abdomen. My GP did a stool test and I was diagnosed with Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS). My GP felt this tied in with the bloating and bowel problems.
For 3 more years the bloating and discomfort increased. I regularly visited my GP receiving numerous prescriptions for anti-spasmodic medication without tests.
Further symptoms developed in July 2006. I couldn’t eat more than a few mouthfuls of food before feeling full. I began losing weight generally whilst my abdomen began to swell. I was initially excited about this as I thought I was pregnant – sadly there was no baby (I had 9l of fluid in my abdomen!). Read more Ovarian cancer – Are you aware of the symptoms