New Medicine Service

About our New Medicine Service

If you’re prescribed a medicine to treat a long-term condition for the first time, you may be able to get extra help and advice about your medicine from your local pharmacist through a free scheme called the New Medicine Service (NMS).

People often have problems when they start a new medicine. As part of the scheme, the pharmacist will support you over several weeks to use the medicine safely and to best effect.

The service is only available to people using certain medicines. In some cases where there’s a problem and a solution cannot be found between you and the pharmacist, you’ll be referred back to your doctor.

When you take your new prescription to your local pharmacy, ask the pharmacist if you can take part in the New Medicine Service.

Start your medicine

You can talk to the pharmacist when you first start taking your medicine and ask any questions you may have about it. For example, you might want to know about side effects or how you can fit your treatment around your lifestyle.

Your second appointment

You’ll have a follow-up appointment 2 weeks later, when you and your pharmacist can talk about any issues you might have experienced with the medicine. For example, if you’re not taking it regularly or are finding a tablet hard to swallow, your pharmacist can help you get back on track and work with you to find solutions to any issues.

Your third appointment

You will have your last appointment a further 2 weeks later, when you can catch up with your pharmacist again to see how you’re getting on. The service then ends, but your pharmacist will always talk to you about your medicines when you need help.

Do I have to talk about my medicines over the counter in the pharmacy?

Any pharmacist providing the New Medicine Service must have a private consultation area. This is a separate room where you cannot be overheard, and most pharmacists have one. All the discussions with your pharmacist can take place in person or by phone.

Do I have to pay?

No. This service is free through the NHS.

In England, around 15 million people have a long-term condition (LTC) and the optimal use of appropriately prescribed medicines is vital to the management of most LTCs. However, reviews conducted across different disease states and different countries are consistent in estimating that between 30 and 50 per cent of prescribed medicines are not taken as recommended. This represents a failure to translate the technological benefits of new medicines into health gain for individuals. Sub-optimal medicines use can lead to inadequate management of the LTC and a cost to the patient, the NHS and society.

It is therefore clear that non-adherence to appropriately prescribed medicines is a global health problem of major relevance to the NHS. It has been suggested that increasing the effectiveness of adherence interventions may have a far greater impact on the health of the population than any improvement in specific medical treatments.

Non-adherence is often a hidden problem, undisclosed by patients and unrecognised by prescribers. People make decisions about the medicines they are prescribed and whether they are going to take them very soon after being prescribed the new medicine.

Research has shown that pharmacists can successfully intervene when a medicine is newly prescribed, with repeated follow up in the short term, to increase effective medicine taking for the treatment of a long-term condition.

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New Medicine Service

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