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Monday 22 October 2018
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Patient safety at risk with self-selection of medicines

Patient safety will be compromised if plans to move Pharmacy-only medicines from behind the counter to the open shop floor go ahead, The Pharmaceutical Journal, the leading journal for pharmacists, warns today.

The Journal is calling on the General Pharmaceutical Council to put a stop to its proposal in light of serious concerns raised by patient groups and pharmacy bodies.

Moving away from the tried and tested system of supplying P-medicines from behind the pharmacy counter may endanger patients and the public who may self-select inappropriate medicines. This will be particularly unsafe for those who are elderly or vulnerable.

Katherine Murphy, Chief Executive of the Patients Association, told The Journal that risks to patients could be quite significant. "[Self selection] does not help vulnerable patients who will need help and advice on selecting medicines for themselves. Under the new scheme the patient will select the medication and then they can only have a discussion with the pharmacist at the till point when the patient is ready to pay, which can create problems," she told The Journal, adding: "There are also issues around safe storage of medicines and the proposed risks that this will add to patients."

The Journal editors write in an accompanying opinion piece: "Rather than customers talking to pharmacy staff about their symptoms and receiving advice on which medicine is suitable and then being handed it, in future they may approach the pharmacy counter with the pharmacy medicine already in their hands. This irrevocably changes the relationship between pharmacy customers and pharmacists."

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