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Pharmacy and M.E.

Pharmacy and M.E.

In response to the growing need for community pharmacists to take a greater role in the delivery of primary care for people with long-term conditions, Action for M.E. has produced an M.E. information resource for community pharmacy teams across the UK. This includes key information on:

  • pharmacological management of M.E., with quick reference tables on pathophysiology, symptoms and management, and common medication issues
  • issues with polypharmacy (see below)
  • delivering pharmacy services to people with M.E.

If you are a pharmacy professional, please download a free copy of M.E./CFS: a guide for pharmacy teams today, and let us know if you're willing to share feedback on the resource, and how we can support you and your patients more effectively.

We are hugely grateful to pharmacist and Action for M.E. volunteer Emily Beardall, who wrote the resource, and continues to devote considerable time, energy and expertise to engaging with health professionals and improving outcomes for people with M.E.

Issues with polypharmacy

A significant number of people with M.E. take medication for individual symptoms. Organising and taking medication, along with coping with side effects, may add to the burden of M.E. Although sometimes appropriate, polypharmacy could occur due to the following factors in someone with M.E.

  • The symptom management approach can result in many medicines being prescribed over time due to the numerous symptoms of the illness.
  • People with M.E. can attend many different specialists, especially during investigations at the start of the illness to establish a diagnosis, and each may prescribe medication.
  • Increased susceptibility to side effects, and the similarity of these and the symptoms of M.E., can result in misinterpreting these as new symptoms and medication being prescribed to alleviate them, resulting in a prescribing cascade.
  • A high occurrence of multimorbidity can contribute to the number of medicines prescribed.
  • Some symptoms may come and go over time, so it is possible that the indication for which medication has been prescribed is no longer current.