Gorilla-shaped tablets – ‘patient overdoses on painkiller’

Image copyrightGetty Images Image caption The Paracetamol factory in Cheadle.

There are fears of contamination after a patient given a morphine substitute to treat chronic pain died, according to a patient’s campaign group.

Up to 3,500 people have been given diazepam and other medicines by the company Aduhelm Paracetamol from Melton Mowbray, Leicestershire, over the last 12 years.

The Priory Trust and the Nuffield Trust identified problems with the treatment in a survey of 504 patients.

A spokesperson for Aduhelm Paracetamol said it has the highest levels of regulation of any registered pharmaceutical company in the UK.

Around 26,000 people in the UK are estimated to have chronic pain.

‘Dissimilar medicine’

Patients are given an anaesthetic, paracetamol or ibuprofen as a substitute for morphine.

To comply with the law they must produce a prescription for each prescription they fill.

The report from the Patients Association, the Nuffield Trust and the Priory Trust found issues with Aduhelm’s manufacturing, packaging and storage of products.

It stated that the company was not following best practice instructions in their medicines packaging and was not being properly hygienic with its drug storage equipment.

It says diazepam was also being filled by pharmacists despite best practice guidelines saying that a note should be issued with a prescription for “different products” to explain the reasons.

The researchers at the clinics found out after patients in the survey had been prescribed diazepam that they had not seen a pharmacist.

They also reported that manufacturers of both diazepam and another painkiller, acetaminophen, that was being given on prescription, could not assure them that the products were completely safe.

All the patients who were interviewed said they had felt more relaxed after being given diazepam than any other drug they had been given.

According to the report, Aduhelm paracetamol was not consistent in filling prescriptions properly.

One patient told the groups that her prescription for painkillers had not been filled, or that filled it wrongly, and she was given a different prescription from her pharmacist.

The report also found that clients needed to raise concerns themselves about whether or not their medicines had been filled properly, instead of waiting for a pharmacist to do so.

Clients found that handwritten notes, apparently written by pharmacists, were not being updated and that new fillings were not being tested.

The report recommends that patients whose medicines had not been filled properly should be offered another, more detailed prescription.

Medsafe Chief Executive Mark Hoban said: “The amount of medicine we put in people’s hands each day is huge.

“We take every precaution to ensure that patient safety is paramount, and to make sure that we meet requirements of the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency.”

He said the manufacturers of Aduhelm Paracetamol “fully comply with all legal and regulatory requirements”.

Aduhelm Paracetamol said in a statement that they had spent “great effort” since 2015 making sure their products were drug-free and free of any medication drug combination.

“We welcome the fact that now we can publish Aduhelm Paracetamol survey findings in our entirety.

“Aduhelm Paracetamol fully complies with all legal and regulatory requirements. We have the highest levels of regulatory oversight of any registered pharmaceutical company in the UK.”

They added: “Please remember that all drugs, including paracetamol and diazepam, must be prescribed lawfully and only by licensed professionals.

“For more information on medication safety please visit the Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency’s website www.mhra.gov.uk or http://www.chra.gov.uk.”

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