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PMRGCAuk
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Can pharmacists give prednisolone in an emergency?

I was out earlier this afternoon when I started to feel very strange and shaky. I then suddenly realised I had forgotten to take my pred this morning. I quickly got on a bus to go home, but started to feel even worse. The bus stopped in front of a branch of Boot's so I got off and went in and asked to speak to the pharmacist. I asked him if he could issue me with 10 mg of pred as an emergency and showed him my blue Steroid Treatment Card which has all my details including current dosage, contact details for GP and hospital, my NHS number and hospital number. He said they couldn't do it as 'they knew nothing about me' which was nonsense in view of the information on the card, and I had other ID to show that I was the same person.

This seems to be contrary to what I've read on the NHS website. I would have paid for the tablets if necessary. Has anybody else had a similar experience? I'd be interested to receive your comments, especially if you think I'm being unreasonable. I've sent an email of complaint to Boot's.

65 Replies
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Ok, well. Perhaps not but a pharmacist should know a possible adrenal crisis when they see it and perhaps should have either called your GP for permission or faxed prescription or even called for an ambulance. Perhaps a letter to Boots because if nothing else this is a learning point and possibly a change of policy.

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I have sent them an email. The NHS website ( on its paged entitled 'Where can I get an emergency supply of medicine?') says 'The pharmacist may provide an emergency supply of up to 30 days' treatment for most prescription medicines, with these exceptions...' The exceptions certainly don't include pred.

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Sounds like most of my experiences with Boots - really not what they once were! Though to be fair, one of the Dundee stores was outstanding in October!!

They are supposed to - but how you prove it to them when they are being so stuffy I don;t know. But for goodness sake - anybody would think you were seeking opiods!

OTOH - time to put a day's worth of all medications in a dosette box in your handbag. NOW!

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Excellent advice. I shall do so immediately. This is the first time I've ever forgotten to take my pred. The worst thing is that I was on my way to a fitness class that I really wanted to attend.

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I don't leave the house, even to walk into the village, without the day's tablets. If we are to be any further away and there is any chance I might not get home - I take the next day's as well and even sometimes the ziplock bag with packs of everything...

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I mentioned you did this in an earlier post. That's what made me take a supply everywhere. Thanks

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I carry a weeks' worth at all times.

We've been through enough disasters in New York during the last couple of decades that leave us without roads or transportation or power or water or sometimes even food.

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People on the forum have already discussed putting a supply our bags and after I forgot my morning pred I now always carry a supply. I think pmr pro has said she doesn't go anywhere without a couple of days with her.x

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Totally agree with all the comments above , about carrying a supply of meds , and about the inconsistent , unreliable service provided by individual pharmacies.

Be prepared , bee xx

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I must take your very wise advice and never be without an appropriate amount of pred. However I still think he was unreasonable. I've read the advice on the website of the Royal Pharmaceutical Society which bears out what I read on the NHS website. He shouldn't have been so dismissive so quickly.

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When I was on holiday, in South Africa, from where I come, I ran out of Pred. Asked my pharmacist. Right in front of me, he rang England to get permission. I did have the script with me. Can't remember exactly how many he gave me, but enough until I got back. Lesson learnt.

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Brilliant. So it can work internationally too if the pharmacist does his job properly...

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It's amazing isn't it.

The service in the UK should be as good.

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Been in the same boat years ago for a different medication , it was also Boots , anesthesia same branch that actually dispensed the original script!!

Getting on the repeat prescription service with a group like Lloyds may help.

They said they would have been able to help me if I had been on their system .

But I never leave without my meds now.

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It sounds like company policy, but it's contrary to the NHS and the Royal College of Pharmacists and, of course, Boots is the biggest chain of pharmacists in this country, so I imagine they must disappoint quite a lot of people on a regular basis.

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I agree he could have called your doctor. Grrr

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Put a little bottle in your hand bag with a few. Just in case.

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I certainly intend to do so. I've learned a useful lesson today. I never want to feel like that again... it was scary!

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Please leave them in their original packaging or make sure a bottle is carefully and clearly labelled,

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Will do...

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I keep a day's dose in the prescription bottle I just emptied. This way my name, the name of the doctor, and the pharmacy is on it. The dosage might be off if you've just tapered but I write the new dose on it. I figure it's another safety net if something goes wrong and I can't answer those questions for myself.

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Good idea, although all that information is on my blue card. Still belt and braces is probably the right approach in this case.

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He could of called your Gp! When I was dental nursing we often rang pharmacies and Gp surgeries to arrange prescriptions in emergencies.

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I know. My GP's phone number is on the blue card. If Boot's don't give me a satisfactory answer, I'm going to go to the Royal College of Pharmacists. I'll admit to being silly for forgetting in the first place and careless not to have an emergency supply in my bag, but pharmacists are supposed to put the patient's welfare first just like doctors and nurses. I really felt terrible and was close to panic.

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Therefore no satisfactory answer for such poor service.

Put in a complaint with whomever you can , find the consumer sites too like Trust pilot and let your feelings be known and give evidence to their negligent service to a wide consumer base.

It may have more impact on their behaviour if they feel it dents their public reputation and income!

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I always keep some pred in my handbag ,although l am only on 5mg now.Sorry that the pharmacist was so unhelpful .

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Can you believe it I forgot my medication recently when I went away. 😫. I went into a chemist and told them what I take and they said I could buy them. I then rang my own chemist who dispense my prescription and they messaged it through to them and it was all free. Both are independent chemists ie not part of a chain, and they were really helpful

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Good to hear about co-operative pharmacists. It's all ammo if Boot's try to defend their man!

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I too went away, on a long weekend, to Manchester, and forgot my Pred on the kitchen counter... I called 111 and they were able to verify that I indeed had a prescription for Pred on record, and authorised me to pick up a 4 day supply at a local pharmacy... not the pharmacy I called from mind you; as they said they had certain pharmacy that they worked with, but nonetheless, they were brilliant!!!!

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Good tip to call 111. I never thought of that. Anyway I'm feeling more and more vindicated and I'm very grateful for your response.

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I’m quite appalled really that even though you had your Blue Card they wouldn’t help you, it wasn’t opioids you were after!......

I can remember back in the day, we were at the seaside & my Mum spilt her Asthma Pump (it was liquid in those days) we went into a Chemist & they filled it up for her. She was however, wheezing badly so it was kind of obvious, they called an Ambulance & we all ended up in A&E with our buckets & spades!

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Thank you for your support. I wonder what he would have done if I had been a diabetic without my insulin....

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Exactly! x

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I have had Boots ring my surgery, then they issued a small emergency supply that I paid for. I think yours was over cautious/ zealous.

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That is what I expected to happen. Well, I'll wait and see what their Customer Services have to say.

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Marijo I think we know each other well enough for me to speak freely. That pharmacist was a prick. Sorry. But seriously what a b*****d. As you can see I am very upset at the ruthless treatment you got. Heartless. I hate him. I feel outraged on your behalf xxxxx

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Oh gosh. He might not be a prick in general (he seemed a nice young man at first), but he certainly wasn't at his best when dealing with me...

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❤️❤️❤️❤️👩‍❤️‍💋‍👩

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Echo the advice to have a couple of days supply in your handbag or whatever. I don't know if I'm being over fussy, but I also replace the ones in my bag with fresh ones when I get a new prescription so they don't go out if date. Naturally I then use the others up at home.

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I think I’ve been to blasé about the whole tabs thing, in denial as usual. I must start carrying my meds with me and ensuring they’re up to date. Thanks for that tip

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I agree - good tip...

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I've just come in from Slimming World and I can assure you I had a dose in my bag, although I was very careful to take my tablets with breakfast. I shall be as careful as you in future.

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In my experience Boots' pharmacists are generally very a**y about all sorts of things. They seem to have unnecessary company policies about all sorts of things. Give me an independent chemist every time!

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I think you have a point. I once saw my own pharmacist (independent) deal with a person who had lost their meds. He rang the person's usual pharmacist (Saturday so no reply from surgery), got the details and issued a few days' supply. I assumed that would be the general response.

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NHS procedure in this sort of situation seems unclear or unstated for chemists, and/or varies widely in implementation. There appears to be no consistency in how individual chemists deal with emergencies like yours. I can't understand a pharmacist who doesn't care enough to try and do all they can for you (eg calling gp etc) - they are after all supposed to be in "the caring profession" and this case does begger belief. However, they are not doctors and can take no responsibility for prescribing drugs. I can understand the fear of rendering themselves liable to prosecution in the event of a serious mistake. It's worth bearing in mind they are for the most part just shopkeepers and dispensaries only.

What I would advise is that you keep an emergency supply on you at all times - a blister pack or two isn't too much to carry. And in this day and age where "patient care" varies widely between different parts of the NHS, then, be prepared. Have alternate courses of action in mind (e.g. dial 111), ensure you know where local hospitals and walk in centers are in case a visit to A&E becomes necessary, and there's always 999 if you go into crisis or stroke. Keep people around you (familly and friends) informed of what can happen and what to do if you have a stroke.

Though the NHS is mostly an absolutely, amazing and wonderful service, my motto has to be "protect yourself as best you can from a very indeterminate and inconsistent world".

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Thank you. Yes, I will always carry an emergency supply with me. I realise - especially after all the advice I've received - that I was silly not to do so already. All I wanted was 10 mg of prednisolone so there couldn't have been much risk of prosecution and my blue card shows that 10 mg is my current dose. Anyway I'm now waiting to see how Boot's respond...

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It's not always the pharmacy rules either , sometimes ( often ) service within a branch is often inconsistent , what one chemist might do and won't because they can't be bothered and will try to use ' rules' as a way to excuse their poor behaviour.

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Geez. You could be a devious Pred drug addict!! I always have four days worth of my tablets in a pencil case with me so if things go pear shaped I won't go pear shaped.

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You are definitely wise and I shall follow your example...

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Ha. Not wise. Forgotten before and paid later. Does wise=old. Then yes.

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Not too relevant, but living in Texas on the border with Mexico, I have discovered they don't require a prescription.

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:-)

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I'll remember that if I ever happen to be down your way!

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Far West Texas is sweet. No traffic signals in a county that is bigger than the State of Connecticut.

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I don't know if I could cope. I'm definitely a city girl. Wide open spaces don't suit me for long, even our diddy little British ones. When I visited San Francisco, I stayed in the Bay Area, didn't go to Yosemite, Big Sur or any of the places I was advised to go - was afraid that serious agoraphobia might kick in. When I saw 'No Country for Old Men' (which I consider one of the most over-rated films ever), Javier Bardem didn't scare me one bit, it was those opening scenes of Josh Brolin out hunting in the wide open Texas countryside that spooked me...

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I take it you have avoided Lawrence of Arabia then? My favourite scenes were the interminable ones of the desert, which were cut when movie re-released.

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I saw it years ago when I was young. This dislike of wide open spaces has come on in the last 10 or 20 years.

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So it's you a certain person is after?????????

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Not that I am aware of. I thought all the bodies were buried 😂😂😂

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Recently caught out when my mother was admitted to hospital and we found ourselves a long drive away from home. Decided we should stay over but did not have any steroids with me grrrr. Anyway s quick call to 111 who listened to what I needed and arranged for an on call doctor to phone me. I was told this could take up to 12 hrs! Anyway 10 mins later I received a call and explained my situation. The doctor said he would fax a prescription to a late night pharmacy, a nearby Asda, and gave me four days supply just in case. Really easy and stress free. Made life s lot easier than driving the 150 mile round trip just to pick up some pills.

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Another good story. I'm so glad to learn that pharmacists in general are more sympathetic and helpful and stick to what the NHS and their own royal college say should happen.

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When did Boots go downhill? en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Boots_UK

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After it was bought out...

Boots has claimed there isn't/they can't get enteric coated pred. It is only made by their holding company...

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Definitely , sounds like if all else fails 111 is a number we should all remember., Bee x

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Yes, that seems an excellent tip.

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