Protecting the public with safe pharmacy practice

Posted in: General Information 22nd March 2018

Twentieth-century medicine bottles had distinctive, recognisable shapes to ensure they were not confused with drinks bottles. In the modern day, prescription bottles have adopted the distinctive orange cylinder and other safety precautions including child-safe caps. When handling, administering and taking medication, safety is paramount, as Adrian Pittock, marketing director at healthcare and pharmacy consumables provider, Valley Northern explains.

Every healthcare provider will agree that patient safety is top of their priority list. However, it is often easy to overlook small changes that can further aid in ensuring patients are kept safe and receive the very best care.



Modern medicine cartons come in many shapes and sizes, but all must contain vital patient safety information. Simple additions to carton design, like a pre-defined space for labels that provide administrative and storage instructions, can make a real difference to patient wellbeing as information is easily visible, not overlapped with other labels and in a standardised place each time.

In addition, packaging with dedicated space for labels makes the pharmacist’s job hassle free, giving them more time to spend with patients. Other packaging features can directly help keep patients safe, like the inclusion of strong lock-ends, which can prevent packaging accidentally opening and medication being lost.



Labels act as the reminder to patients about the storage and administration of their medication. It’s essential that these are communicated to the patient to help ensure they are taking the correct dose, at the right time, in the right way.

Failure to correctly take medication or complete the full course can cause the treatment to fail, illnesses to become worse, result in unwanted side effects and is even responsible for antibiotic resistance. In March 2017, the World Health Organisation (WHO) reported that medication errors cause at least one death every day in the United States alone.

Patients can also be reminded that if they have any questions about how to properly take over the counter or prescription medication, their local pharmacist is happy to advise them.



On rare occasions, a healthcare provider may advise their patient to stop taking medication before the course has been completed. In this scenario, or in the case of unwanted or out-of-date over the counter medication, it is important to ensure the medication is disposed of correctly.

Under the Misuse of Drugs regulations (2001), pharmacists have a responsibility to denature out of date or unwanted controlled drugs (CD) before destruction, so that they cannot be retrieved, recovered or reused. This is the case for both patient-returned controlled drugs and date expired pharmacy stock.

Many denaturing kits simply encapsulate the drug, before it is finally destroyed by incineration. However, this could leave the remnants of a drug open to abuse. In contrast, Valley Northern’s Pharmasafe CD denaturing kits actually destroy the drug, making the kit’s contents much safer and secure.

The kits are also fully operational without the need for tablet crushing and are quick and simple to use with a wide neck and clear plastic tub, so it is easy to see where to fill to, making it increasingly easy and hassle free to use for pharmacy staff.

Choosing the correct product to fit the purpose, such as peculiarly shaped medicine bottles, or denaturing kits that quickly and efficiently dispose of drugs, is essential particularly when patient safety could be at stake. For more information about customer safety, denaturing kits or any of Valley Northern’s range of products, visit or call +44 (0)1785 250123.

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