We welcome review into overprescribing

The Royal Pharmaceutical Society has today welcomed a Government report into overprescribing led by the Chief Pharmaceutical Officer for England, Dr Keith Ridge.

The report sets out a series of practical and cultural changes to make sure patients get the right treatment for their needs. These include shared decision making with patients about their medicines, better use of technology, and ways to review their prescriptions more effectively.

Chair of the RPS in England Thorrun Govind said:

“We welcome this review which outlines what needs to happen to stop overprescribing across healthcare and ensure more effective use of medicines. Many of us take more medicines than we need and this can have a hugely negative impact on our health.  

“As science advances and people live with complex and multiple conditions, they are prescribed an increasing number of medicines. For too long the healthcare system has focused on the positive effects of adding medicines to a prescription, rather than acknowledging that this can also increase the risk of side effects and interactions between medicines, leading to poor health and costly unnecessary admissions to hospital.

“We need to focus on putting shared decision making between the prescriber and patient at the heart of prescribing, and look at the individual needs and circumstances of each person.

“This report explores many of the issues that pharmacists have been highlighting for a long time and gives a range of solutions. Pharmacists across the country will be eager to play an active role, working alongside the patients and communities they serve, to reduce the harm that medicines can cause when over prescribed.”

RPS representative on the report's working group, Lelly Oboh FRPharmS, said:

"Using medicines is an important aspect of health care that helps people to live better lives. It’s vital that we take a holistic approach that considers a person’s social, physical and mental health needs so they are only prescribed medicines that enable them to achieve the outcomes that are most important to them.  

"As people get older, the more long-term conditions they have, the more medicines they are prescribed to manage them. Our current culture and the way our systems are set up favour the use of medicines as a ‘one size fits all’ to manage these conditions. They continue to be prescribed long after they are wanted or needed, resulting in harmful effects, a reduced quality of life, unnecessary admissions to hospital and medicines wastage.

"This report will change how we start, stop, monitor and review people’s medicines, with a greater emphasis on having person-centred conversations, which include listening to people’s' perspectives and sharing decisions about their priorities, preferences, risks and benefits of taking medicines.

"I welcome the report and look forward to the changes that it will bring for the benefit of our patients and the NHS. Our role as pharmacists is essential to ensuring that medicines are safe and effective for people who take them. There are ample opportunities in the report for pharmacy ‘together’ to collaborate with other partners to implement the recommendations.

"We will make every conversation count by keeping people at the centre of their care when we undertake structured medication reviews, prescribe or dispense medicines, provide medicines information and advice, so that they get the medicines they need and are willing to take."

Read the Overprescribing Review