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Supply of unlicensed medicines to children: semi-structured interviews with carers
  1. Nicola Rachel Husain1,2,
  2. J Graham Davies1,
  3. Stephen Tomlin2
  1. 1 Institute of Pharmaceutical Science, King’s College London, London, UK
  2. 2 Evelina London Children’s Hospital, Guy’s & St Thomas’ NHS Foundation Trust, London, UK
  1. Correspondence to Nicola Rachel Husain; nicola.husain{at}


Objectives To explore the experiences of parents and carers relating to the supply of unlicensed medicines for their child after discharge from hospital.

Methods Semi-structured interviews were conducted with 15 parents and carers of children who were newly prescribed an unlicensed medicine. Interviews were conducted at least 4 weeks after the child’s discharge from hospital. Qualitative thematic analysis of the data was carried out.

Results Problems were frequently encountered by parents when attempting to obtain further supplies of their child’s unlicensed medicine. Problems included general practitioners (GPs) refusing to prescribe the medicine, GPs prescribing a dose or formulation that differed to what had been prescribed previously, pharmacists who were unable to source a suitable medicine, medicines that were not labelled with administration instructions and delays in obtaining the medicine. Action or intervention by the parent was often required to overcome the problems faced. The necessity of these actions or interventions, and the implication of not succeeding, frequently caused parents anxiety, frustration and dissatisfaction.

Conclusions Strategies for improving the process of medicine supply during the transition between secondary and primary care are necessary and must involve greater communication among healthcare professionals and carers. GPs and community pharmacists should have access to greater support and guidance to facilitate the safe prescribing and supply of unlicensed medicines. Parents and carers should be informed about the process to ensure understanding, create empowerment and to build relationships between them and the professionals responsible for the care of their child.

  • Paediatric Practice
  • Qualitative Research
  • Patient Perspective

This is an Open Access article distributed in accordance with the Creative Commons Attribution Non Commercial (CC BY-NC 4.0) license, which permits others to distribute, remix, adapt, build upon this work non-commercially, and license their derivative works on different terms, provided the original work is properly cited and the use is non-commercial. See:

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  • Contributors Conception or design of the work, critical revision of the article and final approval of the version to be published: all authors. Data collection, analysis and interpretation, and drafting the article: NRH.

  • Competing interests None declared.

  • Ethics approval Ethical approval was granted by the North-West National research ethics service committee on 29 April 2014 (reference 14/NW/0243).

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.

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