'Take as directed', whatever that means

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In South Australia 'that' means the prescription is invalid. Regulations under the Controlled Substances Act require that prescriptions be legible and include specific directions. In most instances the problem is resolved by reference to prescription records and discussion with the patient, to avoid forcing the patient to return to the doctor to have the prescription corrected.

Helen Hopkins' article omits mention of the positive contributions made by pharmacists in aiding compliance, mentioning only' ... hesitating to communicate effectively with consumers about risks'. We may hesitate in some cases but we distribute the majority of Consumer Medicine Information and other printed and verbal information available from health professionals. Many pharmacists also print the indication on the label at the request of the patient, but this is often difficult when prescribers do not indicate that the tricyclic, for example, is for pain relief.

It would be interesting to know how many patients refuse to take medication after reading the Consumer Medicine Information - we suspect many - because the early information sheets often contained misleading information.

Finally, the term 'polypharmacy' is inappropriate because it is poly-prescribing that leads to the problems of multiple medication use, something today's pharmacists try to discourage.

Peter Bayly
Wattle Park, SA