A joint resource has been published to support pharmacy teams in helping women and girls who have been prescribed valproate medicines.

Women and girls using valproate medicines must now be protected by a Pregnancy Prevention Programme which brings valproate in line with other medicines which are dangerous during pregnancy, such as isotretinoin and thalidomide. 

The resource includes a decision pathway and key points for consideration to prompt conversations between the pharmacy team and their patients.  It has been developed in partnership by the pharmacy organisations represented on the MHRA’s Valproate Stakeholder Network, including the Community Pharmacy Patient Safety Group, Community Pharmacy Northern Ireland, Community Pharmacy Scotland, Community Pharmacy Wales, the Royal Pharmaceutical Society, the Pharmacy Forum of Northern Ireland and the Pharmaceutical Services Negotiating Committee.

The resource builds on the MHRA’s national toolkit for all healthcare professionals and enables pharmacists to understand where they can advise and help patients.  It also aligns closely with a clinical audit on valproate safety that the Company Chemists’ Association launched in June 2018. 

Commenting on the launch of the joint resource, RPS England Board Chair Sandra Gidley said: “Every pharmacist advising patients on valproate should use this toolkit.  We are proud to have worked with so many pharmacy organisations to help protect women, girls and babies from the dangers of using valproate medicines in pregnancy. Pharmacists and pharmacy teams have a very important role to play in talking to women about the risks of valproate, but also to ensure they never suddenly stop taking their medicines without a review from the prescriber first.”

Janice Perkins, Chair of the Community Pharmacy Patient Safety Group added: “It’s been great to work collaboratively on this resource for pharmacists and their teams, to help drive consistent understanding of what actions should be taken across the entire network.  Community pharmacy teams are perfectly placed to support women and girls taking valproate, working closely with their local GP surgery teams to raise awareness, reduce potential risks of harm and make a difference.”

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