September 1st 2020

The two opioids available for delivery via a transdermal patch in the UK are fentanyl and buprenorphine. Fentanyl products are licensed for severe and chronic pain that requires long-term opioids or that does not respond to non-opioids. Buprenorphine is available in two sets of products – the stronger patches have a similar license to fentanyl while the lower strengths are indicated for non-malignant pain when an opioid is necessary (they are used for cancer pain in some cases, where patients only require low opioid doses)…

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September 1st 2020

One of the audits collected on our Ashtons Live View system is the number of prescription items for each patient. This information enables us to provide you with comparative data and percentages for our clinical interventions. It is not unusual to count more than twenty items for one patient on a hospice drug chart, although many of these items will be on the PRN pages. We pay great attention to detail with the patient’s response to their medicines, but what are the prompts for reducing the number of items?

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September 1st 2020

From 31 March 2020 NHS and partner organisations are required to use modern communication methods instead of faxes, such as secure email, in order to comply with their information governance requirements and in a bid to improve patient safety and cyber security. How do we swap to using secure email?

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September 1st 2020

Looking back on my emails, I see that my first COVID-related message came in on 3rd March. At first, it was impossible to judge the impact the virus was going to have on our healthcare system and hospices. The shocking lack of their inclusion in the two essential components – PPE and testing – soon became apparent. Many of our senior hospice colleagues have described how they had to ‘fight’ for what was needed –on top of caring for very sick patients who may or may not have the virus and staff having to isolate for the statutory period…

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September 1st 2020

It’s summer and hay fever season is in full swing. Hay fever (allergic rhinitis) is an allergic reaction to pollen and symptoms include sneezing and coughing; a runny or blocked nose; itchy, red or watery eyes; an itchy throat, mouth, nose and ears; pain around your temples and forehead; headache; earache and feeling tired. People with asthma can experience additional symptoms…

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September 1st 2020

All drugs have a scientific name based on its organic chemistry. And even though morphine can be written simply as C17H19NO3, to also accurately describe its structure it needs to go by (4R,4aR,7S,7aR,12bS)-3-Methyl-2,3,4,4a,7,7a-hexahydro-1H-4,12-methanobenzofuro[3,2-e]isoquinoline-7,9-diol which by any standards is a bit of a mouthful. For this reason, drugs are given a shorter ‘generic’ name. Drugs of a similar class share the same stem, so for example a benzodiazepine will have the ending -azepam (clonazepam, diazepam, lorazepam)…

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September 1st 2020

Motilin is a naturally occurring hormone secreted by the small intestine. It increases gastro-intestinal motility and peristalsis and accelerates gastric emptying. It functions mainly between meals and in doing so prepares the gut for the next meal. Erythromycin happens to be a motilin agonist – working in the same way as the hormone – so can be used when metoclopramide or other prokinetics are unsuitable. It is effective in about half of cases, and concerns about the development of bacterial resistance…

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September 1st 2020

The MHRA has decided that stimulant laxatives can be inappropriately used by people wanting to lose weight – especially those who may have an eating disorder. In future, products such as Senna and Bisacodyl will sold in small pack sizes only and to people over 18…

Guy’s and St Thomas’ manufacturing unit has now ceased supply of 2% lidocaine in Lutrol gel and it is now distributed by Oxford Health – the NHS specials and wholesale supplier…

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September 1st 2020

For many years the NHS has struggled to fulfil the NHS Out of Hours (OOH) standards that stated ‘patients should be able to access the medicines they need at the time and place of the OOH consultation’. The Drug Tariff, which determines the list of products which can be prescribed on FP10 and their re-imbursement costs, still includes a rather dated ‘Out of Hours national formulary’ which categorises a wide range of medications for emergencies which include palliative care…

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September 1st 2020

The pandemic has made it difficult for hospices to arrange training and there has been less demand for Ashtons pharmacists to present seminars at sites. Consequently, Ashtons is now able to make seminar presentations available via online platforms such as Zoom or Microsoft Teams, meaning that all available staff with online access can participate in the training, without having to meet up in a room together…

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