The Company Chemists’ Association (CCA) has launched an audit tool to help pharmacy teams review how they care for girls and women taking valproate medicines – whose use in this group was recently placed under heavy restrictions to help prevent birth defects and developmental disorders.
In April, the Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) announced new measures meaning that doctors will only be able to prescribe sodium valproate to female patients of childbearing potential who are put on a Pregnancy Prevention Programme.
The CCA, the trade association for large pharmacy multiples in Great Britain, says its practice-based audit “will help pharmacists and their teams to review and reflect on their current practice and to assess what changes may need to be made.”
Pharmacy teams are encouraged to go through a checklist regarding any female patients aged 12-49 who are taking sodium valproate, including making a note of any steps taken to raise awareness of the risks around taking valproate while pregnant.
There are two stages to the audit, with the first phase beginning in July. The CCA will circulate the audit resources to its members over the next weeks, but due to the seriousness of the issue encourages all community pharmacies to participate.
Kate Livesey, policy and programmes manager at the CCA commented: “Community pharmacy teams play a vital role in the care of patients taking these high-risk medicines. Given the importance of this year’s topic, we would like to see pharmacy teams from all across the country getting involved in our audit and reviewing their current practice.
"We’re really keen to build a body of evidence from across the whole sector that demonstrates what pharmacy teams are doing to improve care and minimise the risk of harm around valproate in pregnancy.”