Medication review
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Medication review

From InterAction 91, Christmas 2015

Action for M.E. volunteer pharmacist Emily Beardall explores the benefits of having a medication review at your local pharmacy.

Although there isn’t a specific treatment for M.E., you may use medication to manage symptoms such as pain and sleep problems. You may also take medication for other long-term conditions. But did you know that if you take prescription medication regularly, you can ask for a review at your local pharmacy?

A Medicines Use Review (MUR) is a free NHS service offered by pharmacies in England and Wales. A similar scheme, Managing your Medicines, is offered in Northern Ireland, and Scotland offers the Chronic Medication Service for patients with long-term conditions. 

These reviews are an opportunity for you to discuss your medicines with a pharmacist, and to understand how your medicines should be used and why they have been prescribed, as well as solving any problems you may have with them. (By medicines, we mean any tablets, capsules, patches, inhalers, injections, creams and ointments you have on prescription.) For most people, taking medicines will be trouble-free, but problems can occur. A Medicines Use Review is an ideal opportunity to raise issues such as the following:

  • You may have several different medicines to take at different times of the day and find this difficult to manage. 
  • Your tablets may be hard to swallow or may not be compatible with other medicines or foods.
  • You may be experiencing side effects from one or more of your drugs.

What does an MUR involve?

A Medicines Use Review involves a confidential conversation between you and your pharmacist about your medication in a private consultation room. The pharmacist is there to listen to any concerns or questions you have and help you get the best out of your medicines. A typical review will take 10 to 20 minutes. It may be helpful to write a list of all the medication you use to take with you to your review. As well as prescribed medication, include any over-the-counter medicines, any bought from elsewhere (such as the supermarket), and any herbal medicines.

While you’re doing this you could also check the expiry dates and take anything out of date to your pharmacy to be disposed of safely. To make the most of your MUR you could also write a list of any questions or concerns you have about your medication.

The pharmacist will start by going through all the medicines you take, finding out how you take your medicines, and if you have enough information about them. They will check how well you are getting on with your medicines, for example, if you can swallow your medicines easily, or if you are using your inhalers in the best way to get maximum benefit from them.

Together, you will discuss how you think your medicines are working. Not all your medicines may be necessary, the dose might need to be adjusted, or you may be experiencing certain side effects. The pharmacist may be able to suggest some changes to your medication which you can discuss with your GP. The pharmacist will fill in a Medicine Review Action Plan, so you have a record of what has been talked about, and a copy will also go to your GP.

If you’re not eligible for a review, or are unable to have one, you can ask your pharmacist for advice about your medication at any time – in person or by phoning. They can give advice on any aspect of taking medication, such as side effects and interactions with other medication you might buy yourself.

Who can have an MUR? 

You can ask for a Medicines Use Review once a year if you have been getting your prescriptions from the same pharmacy for three months or more and are in one of these groups: 

  • You are regularly taking more than one prescription medicine.
  • You are taking one or more medicines for asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), arthritis, diabetes or epilepsy. 
  • You have recently been discharged from a stay in hospital. If you’re housebound, some pharmacists are registered to provide MURs at your home. In exceptional circumstances MURs can be provided by phone, but the pharmacist must apply to do this for a particular patient, and on a particular occasion. 

To find out more about the review service in your part of the UK, and whether you qualify, ask your local pharmacist.