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Methotrexate prescribing alert

Potential prescribing errors surrounding methotrexate have been flagged up by the Government's National Patient Safety Agency.

The drug, used to treat conditions including severe psoriasis and moderate to severe rheumatoid arthritis, should only be taken once a week but several patients have mistakenly taken it every day.

The Committee on Safety of Medicines has received reports of prescription and dispensing errors, including a case in 2000, when a Cambridgeshire patient died after a practice inadvertently switched prescription of the drug from

a weekly to daily schedule.

The BNF urges GPs to pay attention to both the strength of tablets prescribed and dosing frequency. Methotrexate has been highlighted as part of an agency project to compile a database into areas of high clinical risk and publish plans to reduce adverse incidents.

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