Medicine, Prescribing and Supply

Dr Richard Cooper

Understanding over the counter medicine misuse and abuse in the UK

This is an on-going piece of research for £45,000 for the period 2008-2010 and is funded as a Linstead Fellowship from the Pharmacy Practice Research Trust.

Brief overview:

The increasing availability of over the counter (OTC) medicines allows people to self-manage many conditions, but there are recognised concerns that medicines may be misused and even intentionally abused. The aim of this research is to explore the experiences and perceptions of:

  • stakeholders with an involvement in the supply of OTC medicines
  • individuals who have abused or misused OTC products
  • pharmacists and staff involved in selling OTC medicines

The study is on-going but has identified themes relating to difficulties restricting supplies due to the pharmacy supply network, problems relating to seeking formal medical support/treatment, the role of pharmacists, variable treatment options, the importance of on-line voluntary support networks and conflicting identity claims.

Evaluation of Supplementary Prescribing in Nursing and Pharmacy in the UK

This project was carried out during the period February 2006 – April 2008 and was for £250,000, funded by the Department of Health.

Brief Overview:

Nurse and pharmacist supplementary prescribing in England is safe and is acceptable to patients and doctors, whilst offering nurses and pharmacists enhanced job satisfaction and a useful introduction to prescribing.

These findings emerged from a study conducted by the University of Sheffield and University of Nottingham into this new prescribing initiative, to explore barriers and facilitators to supplementary prescribing implementation, patient and professional experiences, prescribing practices and issues around the safety and costs of supplementary prescribing.

Supplementary prescribing was introduced in the UK in 2003, enabling suitably trained nurses and pharmacists (and more recently other health care professionals) to prescribe a full range of medicines using clinical management plans after an initial medical diagnosis. The study involved key stakeholder interviews, surveys of nurse and pharmacist supplementary prescribers, analysis of PACT data, and a series of case study observations and follow-up interviews, including analysis of observed prescribing.

The study concluded that supplementary prescribing consolidated nurses' existing practice but was an innovation in working practice for pharmacists, although non-medical prescribing remains at very low levels and a lack of understanding and awareness of supplementary prescribing was evident amongst doctors and patients. Clinical management plans were also criticised and were sometimes not used as intended in practice.

Please read the report in the Download box if you wish to find out more about the findings from this study.