Many Believe Side Effects Exaggerated on Medication Leaflets

About four out of 10 patients believe the leaflets that accompany prescription medications exaggerate side effects and only a third of them always read the printed information, according to a new study conducted by a pharmacists’ trade group.

The survey of just over 1,000 patients in the United Kingdom by the National Pharmacy Association (NPA), which represents community pharmacies, found that many patients may be ignoring the advice of their pharmacist and putting their health at risk. For example, 27% of respondents said they would go to another pharmacy to get a drug even if another pharmacist advised against taking it. And 15% said they lied about their health to a pharmacist in order to get a medicine.

One problem the survey found is that many people are uncomfortable questioning advice given by a health care professional. About 52% said they would be uncomfortable challenging their doctor’s advice, and 43% would not want to second-guess their pharmacist.

“If you aren’t satisfied with the advice given in the pharmacy, feel free to challenge it. A good pharmacist will not be offended and should welcome the opportunity to reassure you, to clarify, or to discuss alternatives,” NPA Director of Pharmacy Leyla Hannbeck said in a statement.

Jonathan Block

Jonathan Block is a freelance writer and former MedShadow content editor. He has been an editor and writer for multiple pharmaceutical, health and medical publications, including BioCentury, The Pink Sheet, Modern Healthcare, Health Plan Week and Psychiatry Advisor. He holds a BA from Tufts University and is earning an MPH with a focus on health policy from the CUNY Graduate School of Public Health & Health Policy.

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