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Prescribing Advice for GPs

An NHS Prescribing Advisers' Blog

Drug Safety Update - October 2023

The Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) has published Drug Safety Update for October 2023 (PDF).

This issue introduces new safety measures when prescribing oral formulations of isotretinoin. It would be expected that treatment is initiated and supplied by a specialist. Primary care clinicians may wish to be aware of the suggested measures.

This issue also notes that from 6 to 12 November 2023 it will be the eighth annual #MedSafetyWeek social media campaign. This year the campaign will focus on the importance of reporting suspected adverse reactions to medicines and suspected problems with medical devices. Healthcare professionals are asked to support the campaign by talking to their patients and colleagues about the Yellow Card scheme.

This issue also advises that valproate containing medicines must now always be dispensed in the manufacturer’s original full pack unless there are exceptional circumstances. The aim of this recommendation is to ensure patient information resources reach the patient every time the medication is dispensed. Exceptions could include compliance packing although there should still be processes in place to make sure that the patient receives the Patient Information Leaflet.

Lastly in this issue is a summary of letters to healthcare professionals in September. These generally related to supply issues and recalls with one letter warning that the introduction of azathioprine tablets in new strengths of 75mg and 100mg strengths increases the risk of unintentional overdoses being prescribed or dispensed.

Action: Clinicians should be aware of this month's new guidance and implement any necessary changes to practice.

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