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Unlicensed “Special” Medicines: Understanding the Community Pharmacist Perspective

Authors Wale A, Ireland M, Yemm R, Hiom S, Jones A, Spark JP, Francis M, May K, Allen L, Ridd S, Mantzourani E

Received 21 May 2020

Accepted for publication 16 July 2020

Published 13 August 2020 Volume 2020:9 Pages 93—104


Checked for plagiarism Yes

Review by Single anonymous peer review

Peer reviewer comments 2

Editor who approved publication: Professor Jonathan Ling

Alesha Wale,1 Mark Ireland,2 Rowan Yemm,1 Sarah Hiom,3 Alison Jones,3 John Paul Spark,3 Mark Francis,4 Karen May,5 Louise Allen,5 Steve Ridd,6 Efi Mantzourani1,7

1School of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences, Cardiff University, Cardiff, Wales, UK; 2Community Pharmacy Wales, Cardiff, Wales, UK; 3St. Mary’s Pharmaceutical Unit, Cardiff, Wales, UK; 4Swansea Bay University Health Board, Swansea, Wales, UK; 5Cardiff and Vale University Health Board, Swansea, Wales, UK; 6Mayberry Pharmacy, Cardiff, Wales, UK; 7NHS Wales Informatics Service, Cardiff, Wales, UK

Correspondence: Efi Mantzourani Email [email protected]

Objective: Community pharmacy staff are responsible for obtaining and supplying unlicensed “special” medicines to patients in primary care. Less well-defined parameters for safe and effective use of unlicensed compared to licensed medicines, along with issues around maintaining consistency between care settings or among manufacturers, have been associated with increased risks. This study aimed to explore the views and experiences of community pharmacy staff on accessing and supplying unlicensed “special” medicines to patients in Wales and the perceived impact of challenges faced on patient care.
Methods: A qualitative, phenomenological approach was employed, involving semi-structured interviews with pharmacists and pharmacy technicians working at one small chain of community pharmacies in Wales. The interview schedule focused on the personal experiences and perceptions of the participants on the processes involved in accessing and supplying unlicensed “special” medicines from a community pharmacy. Interviews were audio-recorded and transcribed verbatim.
Results: A total of six participants completed the interview. Three main themes were constructed from inductive thematic analysis of the transcribed interviews: requirement for additional patient responsibilities; influences on the confidence felt by pharmacy staff when accessing and supplying unlicensed “special” medicines; and continuity of supply.
Conclusion: This study gives a preliminary insight into the views and experiences of community pharmacy staff in Wales when accessing and supplying unlicensed “special” medicines. Further research is required to see if these views and experiences are representative of community pharmacy staff across the country.

Keywords: unlicensed medicines, “special” medicines, specials, community pharmacy, transfer of care, medicines supply, transmural care, off-label, compounding

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