My pharmacist asked what Humira was!

I recently went to my pharmacy for an over the counter drug and asked the assistant to check if it was ok to be taken with Humira. She checked with the pharmacist and he came out to me and asked what Humira was as he'd never heard of it. I said it's the brand name for the biologic Adalumimab. He asked if it was a vitamin or mineral. No I said, it's a biologic drug used to treat my rheumatoid arthritis.

I can't be alone in finding this really worrying. Although my Humira is supplied by Healthcare at home surely local pharmacists should also be aware of these drugs. We are increasingly advised to use pharmacists instead of Gp's or A&E and I find this very worrying. Has anyone else come across this?

27 Replies

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  • Dear paulywoo,

    As it is hospitals that prescribe Humira and the delivery companies (like Healthcare at Home) who deliver it, it isn't a complete surprise that as a community pharmacy they haven't come across it. Your local hospital should have a Biologics pharmacist who should be able to advise regards taking other medication alongside Humira, or you can also try the medication line for Humira at H@H on 0333 103 9699.

    Kind regards

    NRAS-Emma

  • Thanks Emma. I'll certainly call H@H in future for advice. I had no idea that community pharmacists had no clue about Biologics.

  • But some pharmacist are more clued up than GP's!

    When I had shingles my pharmacist told me I couldn't take the antivirals my GP had prescribed with Statin- prescribed by the same GP!

    Go Figure!

  • Yes some are great. I had one who spotted I'd been prescribed the wrong antibiotics when on mtx.

  • Thanks Emma. Are these sources available out of hours? Do you have s number for the Orencia helpline?

    Mistydawn

  • Hi Mistydawn,

    Healthcare at home don't seem to have a dedicated line for Orencia (https://www.hah.co.uk/patients/patient-support-for-healthcare-at-home/)

    but if you call the main switchboard number they may be able to point you in the right direction. I believe they're open 7am to 11pm.

    Emma

  • Thank you Emma

  • Hi PaulYwoo

    I've never come across this but I agree, it's a real concern if pharmacists are unaware of biologics. Surely they'd need to know in terms of other drugs taken and contraindications etc?

    Quite stunned at this to be honest.

  • Hi Eiram50, I agree that given the increase in the use of Biologics it would be a good idea for pharmacists to be trained in what they are.

  • Seems sensible and although it has rightly been pointed out that hospitals prescribe and companies deliver and there is advice readily available from biologics Specialist , this doesn't prevent people Taking over the counter meds so I think it's imperative community pharmacists are informed and up to date re any potential difficulties / contraindications.

  • When I have an appointment my rheumy always wants a list of other drugs I take, even OTC drugs. I assume this is so she can check I'm not taking anything incompatible with my biologic (Rituximab).

  • Well I'm in the same boat, she didn't know what Benepali was until I explained it to her

  • I must admit I didn't know what it was either until I did a quick Google. I think what worried me most was the fact he hadn't heard of Biologics at all. To not understand a whole class of drugs is pretty poor. Humira has been around a long time too. It's not like it's new on the market.

  • Yes totally agree, I think Benepali is fairly new but humira as you say has been around for a wee while

  • The pharmacist can always look it up - they can't be experts in everything but do know where to look things up and whether there are any interactions with other medications.

  • OMG i bet you won't be using this place again in a hurry. They should be aware of all the drugs even if they don't have to prescribe it.xxx

  • Hi Sylvi, it's been a while since we spoke. I had a dreadful year and just didn't have the energy to keep up with anyone on here. I've insisted on coming off mtx now. In fact I stopped taking it in January as I felt like a zombie. Hope you're doing ok? X

  • Your not alone darling last year hasn't been my best either. I still think of you darling.xxxx

  • Hi I agree I made the doc take me of methotrexate. I have tried it twice never again as soon as I get up to five tablets a week ,like you a zombie and lots of boil like things on my body ,some times I feel like a guinea-pig as I on 34 tablets a day where do they all where to go, hope you are feeling better when methotrexate gets out your body x

  • Thanks Liggle, I was on 15mg injections. My hair was slowly coming our too until it got so thin it just looked terrible. I hope I never have to go back on it. I was depressed and felt rotten. Thankfully I missed out on the boils! Hope you feel well now?

  • Went to my GP a few weeks ago, when I explained that I was injecting Benepali and was it compatible with the antibiotics he was prescribing for me he asked what Benepali was.

  • Dear me, if it wasn't so worrying it'd be funny.

  • My GP didn't know what Humira was. Neither did a hospital doctor when I was in last year with shingles.

  • I think all these experiences show how important it is that those with any disease find out as much as possible about their condition themselves. It must be challenging for gps and pharmacists to know about every treatment etc ( though I too find it worrying). My gp expressed surprise that I was on two drugs for my RD but from the NRAS site and here I know that that is fairly standard. Same with the reactions of different drugs with each other - there are loads of internet sites where you put in the names of the drugs you're taking and then can check any contraindications with other meds. Some even do the same for vitamins etc or even foods.

  • Yes Paulywoo. Only on Saturday I was at a Boots pharmacy for a sore inflammed upper eyelid. She asked me if I was taking any other medications and didn't know what Orencia (Abatacept) was. I did think this was a bit of a concern her not knowing. She just said, did you get that from the hospital?

    Mistydawn

  • Definitely a good idea to all learn as much as possible about our treatment. Hope your eye got sorted out?

  • Eyelid is getting better thank you Paulywoo

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