Magazine article Drug Topics

Put a Lid on It, Drug Company's Official Advises

Magazine article Drug Topics

Put a Lid on It, Drug Company's Official Advises

Article excerpt

Sure, it's easy for a pharmacist to just slap a prescription label on the drug manufacturer's bulk package and hand it over to the patient without getting that patient's permission to omit a safety cap. But that pharmacist had better resist the temptation, warns a drug manufacturer official. It's not only bad practice that could lead to tragedy, it's also illegal.

Complaints about pharmacists' dispensing in bulk packaging sans safety caps have been landing in the office of G. Edward Collins, who heads the drug information department at Burroughs Wellcome Co. He was alarmed enough to send a "Dear Pharmacist" letter to state pharmacy boards and associations, reminding pharmacists of their legal and professional responsibilities.

"I don't know how big the problem is nationally, but we've received enough complaints from groups that if pharmacists are going to do that, we ought to package them (bulk products) with the safety caps already on them," said Collins, who declined to identify the sources of the complaints. "We feel that it's a pharmacist's responsibility to see that the regulation is fulfilled."

The current problem stems from pharmacists' dispensing in the original bulk packages, typically 100 or more units, which Collins contends are usually shipped with conventional caps. "I know it's very tempting, when you get an Rx that happens to be for 100 units, to take the existing bottle, put a label on it, and hand it to the patient," he said. "There's nothing wrong with dispensing without a safety cap as long as that's what the patient wants. You have to get permission."

Collins' letter is the only complaint received by the American Pharmaceutical Association, said Brian Hyps, associate director-governmental affairs. He added that not all manufacturers package bulk products with conventional closures, which causes physical problems for pharmacists. R.Ph.s are prime candidates for repetitive motion injuries, such as carpal tunnel syndrome.

APhA has joined the campaign to redesign child-resistant closures, to cut down patient requests for nonsafety caps, which would protect children better and spare pharmacists repetitive motions. Hyps also said that all manufacturers should ship bulk products with conventional tops in place but include safety caps as well. …

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