Tuesday, January 09, 2007

Pharmacy pamphlets omitting key information

It's good to see someone drawing attention to these handouts, which are often out-of-date or have American-specific information on them.

Why can drug info sheets look so similar whether they are picked up at a chain pharmacy, independent, or grocery store pharmacy? It's likely because First Data Bank has secured the contracts to provide drug information sheets to most Canadian pharmacy software makers.

The worst mistake I can remember on these sheets was on the patient counselling for Lopressor SR (metoprolol extended release) tablets. Lopresor SR is made by Novartis and is available in Canada and not in the United States. The Americans have their own version of metoprolol sustained release tablets called Toprol XL (not available in Canada), which is made by Astra Zeneca. The Lopresor SR patient info sheets said that tablet could be split in half. While the American Toprol XL is designed to be split in half, Lopresor SR must not be cut or else it destroys the sustained release effect. I remember getting phone calls from patients who would listen to me counsel them to not cut the tab, then they'd go home and read the sheet. Fortunately, I think most them believed me and not the printout.

From the National Post:
Information sheets that pharmacies hand out to educate customers about the drugs they are taking actually leave out key safety information in some cases, omissions that are prompting concern from federal regulators.

Pamphlets distributed by two major retailers on attention-deficit medicines, for instance, fail to mention the government directive that patients with certain heart conditions avoid such drugs. ...more

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