en have been rigorously tested before their general use, not all are specifically licensed for use by children says Dr McLay.
Until this situation is rectified, community pharmacists need to be competent and confident in recognising and dealing with drugs that are prescribed and dispensed outside their licensed use.
Community pharmacists in the UK are responsible for overseeing the supply of prescription and over-the-counter medicine for use by children and ensuring that any off-label drugs are prescribed and dispensed appropriately.
Give their role, we feel that greater emphasis should be placed on providing them with both undergraduate and postgraduate education in off-label dispensing, together with evidence-based information and training.
More than 60 per cent of the community pharmacists surveyed said that they had been asked by a member of the public to sell over-the-counter medicines, such as antihistamines, analgesics and steroids, for off-label use in children.
Nearly all the respondents said that they used general drug guidelines or the pack insert to decide whether to dispense the drug, rather than specialist formularies or guidelines on dispensing to children.
Despite the wide availability of specialised resources, such as Medicine for Children, published by the Royal College of Paediatricians, only one respondent said they used them says Dr McLay.
The situation should hopefully improve, as copies of the British National Formulary for Children have been made freely available to community pharmacists since the survey was carried out.
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