Risks of supermarket medicine substitutions

We have written to the British Retail Consortium to express concern that substitutions of medicines as part of supermarket home delivery practices are putting customers at risk.

Some over the counter medications included in online shopping deliveries such as paracetamol are being substituted with other medicines if they are out of stock. These substitutions have on occasion contained different or additional ingredients to those originally ordered. Without clear and explicit messaging to explain this to customers, such substitutions could cause a serious risk to health, especially amongst those who cannot tolerate or may be allergic to a specific ingredient.

RPS President Sandra Gidley, said:

With demand for online shopping and home delivery services soaring as a result of the pandemic, it’s vital that robust safety procedures for the sale of over the counter medicines are in place.

“We are calling on all retailers to review their processes and staff training to ensure that only like-for-like substitutions of medicines can take place as part of home deliveries. Not taking action leaves patients facing a ticking time-bomb of a dangerous or potentially fatal adverse reaction to a substituted medication. Retailers must address this as a matter of urgency.”


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