British Lung Foundation
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Medicine Missing

Often my monthly prescription will have missing items on the last 2 it has been my Symbicort that has not been in stock. Leaving me without any inhaler and making me feel very ill for 4 days. That is not counting how many empty Spireva capsules they give me then try and make it my fault that it is not working. Am i the only one this happens toor can you relate to this.

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18 Replies

I have had to wait for items not in stock as they say...but i always put my order in early so i have enough meds to keep me going till i get new script.Not good to be without meds..if this happens again tell your pharmacy and they should be able to source the inhaler from another chemist.

It's rare for me when this happens but usually the chemist says it will be in stock within next couple of days, most I've had to wait is 4 days. Like dorall I try to keep ahead ensuring prescriptions don't run out, I have managed over the years to have 2 months supply at home. At Christmas I always order 2 months supply in case of bad weather. Then just top up monthly thereafter.

What you can do is ask the chemist to check to see if he has all on the prescriptionk, if he does not take back the prescription and go to another chemist.

If you use the same chemist regularly he can anticipate your monthly prescription and order in. Maybe put this too your nearest or most convenient pharmacist.

With the spiriva, occasionally I get an empty one, if a whole strip is empty I let the pharmacist know. The instructions on the spiriva mentions to pierce the capsule once only more than this can interfere with the drug delivery etc. no capsule movement in inhalation.

Hope you can get this sorted, its not good you are going for days without your meds.

How do you know that the Speirva capsules are empty?.

I was going to ask the same question as i have these too

It is a reality I'm afraid that medications at times go out of stock or on a manufacturing delay. I know this does not help the patient but it is out of the control of the pharmacies. It is not until they submit an order that you know or until the delivery comes in the next day. Hence why you should never leave it to the last minute for your medication. Do what has been suggested and always keep a month in hand.

If you have signed up to "keep repeat" system where the pharmacy keeps your repeat and orders in ready for you, then this problem should be anticipated and there are many avenues they can go down to assist you. If the worst does happen and the drug cannot be obtained then your GP should be able to prescribe you an alternative.

Hope that helps.

It has been in the press that the drug companies are limiting the NHS because they get a better price elsewhere! I use one pharmacy regularly and they know I rely on all my medication. It has reminded me that I must ask for more symbicort.


Hi JK , That is a shock , i didn't know spiriva capsules could be empty , how do you know if they are empty ???? . I try to keep ahead of my prescription by about a month but things have got a bit out of hand recently with changes in meds and scrips going missing so i am in a bit of a mess at the moment , keeping ahead is the safest though , if the system will let you , good luck xx

think if you can hear something when you shake the capsule, that means there's something in it....after I find out they can be empty, I do this each time to check.

My prescription is automatic at the same chemist every 28 days only time can have any before date is for holidays. Stockpiling is not allowed by doctor because of waste but i always use everything the way it tells you.

Spireva capsule should rattle when you shake them if no rattle it is empty and will not work when you try to use it.

thats the way we do it where I work, we work on a 28 day cycle. No one should stockpile as the waste we receive is horrific. if people only ordered what they need, not just because it is free (in Wales) then I know there would be a lot more money for better purposes.

However, when you have a mediacl condition that depends on medication, it is imperative that you have enough supply at home. Like you can have a prscription early if you go on hols........havn't you got a hol coming up???? nudge nudge wink wink!

If you become ill from not having medication inform doctors or go to hospital you can be very ill by stopping medications suddenly with more sickness caused.

I'm lucky. when I needed something that was out of stock, my pharmacy got some from another chemist so that I would not be without. Auntymary xx


My chemist does not always have the 2 symbicorts on the prescription but they always supply me with one then usually the second in a day or two. As for the Spiriva, I have heard from quite a few people that there are problems with empty capsules, apparently the capsules are light sensitive so once the strip is open it should go back into the box and probably placed in a draw. At rehab last week we had a talk on drugs and the nurse showed us the latest spiriva which is in a similar container as the salbutamol (probably spelt all these wrong) but it is quite a large blast and I am not sure how my lungs would take it, I will personally be having a talk to my doctor about it, might be worth having a chat to yours. Good luck

I agree Gordon,

My understanding is, If the capsule makes a noise (as it rotates) in the handihaler when you breathe in, it has medicine, when it doesn't its an empty capsule. If you pierce the capsule more than once it won't rotate and the medicine may not be delivered as it should on inhalation. If you have not snap closed the handihaler after inserting the capsule, same problem will occur. I think I read this on the leaflet that comes with the Spiriva medicine or from

Using Spiriva:

Hello, I live in fear of not having meds for my husband! I do try to keep at least one inhaler of each type in hand. I suggested to the surgery that we had left an inhaler whilst away and now needed a replacement one - mid month. They obliged and it takes away the stress. Perhaps you could talk to your chemist and ask them if they could keep them in stock or change chemists. I would also mention it to the Doc - you need your inhalers. Good luck TAD x

That's why I've changed to respimat, never knew if the spireva did go down to lungs, got to suck hard with respimat you get a good squirt of spray

Will doctor change to respimat and save getting abuse from people about not using it right when spireva does not work. Have others used respimat is it the same ?


I read on here before, other people said the same as you that they found some capsules empty so you are not alone there and have done or said nothing wrong. I work in a pharmacy and I know that things can and do go wrong on a rare occassion. If you want to change meds, just ask your GP. They shpuld be very accommodating and happy to help but report to your Pharmacy about the spiriva. They can thenn report it to the manufacturer.

Don't be disheartened about some comments ok, we are all in it together at the end of the day x

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