The GPhC says dispensing sodium valproate without information leaflet ‘unacceptable’.

The Sunday Times investigation, published last week (April 16), found that despite repeated warnings about the risks of providing sodium valproate to pregnant women, many patients continue to receive their prescriptions from pharmacies without information leaflets.

In other cases, patients took home “boxes with pharmacy labels stuck over the pregnancy warnings”, according to the Sunday Times report.

C+D reported that a GPhC spokesperson provided them with further detail on how they assess whether the medication is dispensed correctly in pharmacies. 

“Our inspectors check the pharmacy team are following the requirements of the PPP for valproate when assessing if relevant standards have been met” while conducting inspections of pharmacies, they shared.

“No pharmacies were found to have an issue or shortfall in relation to valproate and the PPP  which directly contributed to a standard being classed as not met since in the last year.”

Comparatively, eight pharmacies failed to meet standards associated with dispensing sodium valproate in between 2018 and 2019, and another six between 2019 and 2020. 

Additionally, the GPhC pursued 11 fitness-to-practise cases linked to “registrant non-compliance with the PPP” between 2018 and 2021, the spokesperson shared.

 In a tweet, the GPhC wrote:

“A recent Sunday Times report shows that women are still being dispensed sodium valproate without the information leaflet or with stickers over the warning labels. This is unacceptable. Everyone in pharmacy has a part to play to ensure women receive the right information.

We have regularly reminded all pharmacy professionals of what they must do to ensure women and girls receive the right information about valproate, through emails, articles, video and social media. View the resources on our website

We have worked … to raise awareness among pharmacy teams about requirements when dispensing sodium valproate, including through this video where they shared their powerful stories

Our inspectors check that pharmacies are complying with the MHRA Pregnancy Prevention Programme at every inspection and follow up directly with the pharmacy if we receive reports that a specific pharmacy has dispensed sodium valproate without the right label or information.

Please share our resources on sodium valproate with your colleagues to remind everyone of their important responsibilities to ensure women and girls receive the right information when dispensing sodium valproate >>