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Safety review prompts drug dumping warning

The GPC has warned GPs to resist pressure to prescribe more specialist drugs after a review of the anti-arrhythmia drug amiodarone reported primary care prescriptions soaring despite its potentially fatal adverse effects.

Amiodarone's summary of product characteristics states it should be initiated and monitored under specialist supervision because of its potential adverse effects on the lungs, thyroid, liver, heart, eyes and nervous system.

Despite this, 1,000,000 prescriptions for the drug were dispensed in primary care in England in 2001, states a report in the Drug and Therapeutics Bulletin (February). It said the average GP had seven patients on the drug.

Dr Chaand Nagpaul, a GPC prescribing sub-committee member, said amiodarone was just one of a number of potentially dangerous drugs being dumped on to primary care.

'GPs need to be confident they fully appreciate the extra responsibility they are undertaking,' said Dr Nagpaul, a GP in Stanmore, Middlesex.

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