Community pharmacists are being urged to become more confident when conducting medicines use reviews (MURs) to help make difference to the lives of patients with epilepsy.

Feedback received by the Epilepsy Society has revealed many people with the condition are unaware they can seek help from their local pharmacist rather than their GP surgeries.

Together with the Pharmaceutical Services Negotiating Committee (PSNC), the Epilepsy Society has produced a new consultation brief to assist pharmacists carrying the new MUR for patients taking anti-epileptic drugs.

Rona Eade, epilepsy information manager at the Epilepsy Society, said: “In recent years we have become aware through supporter feedback and through our epilepsy helpline that people with epilepsy often do not realise how their local pharmacist could support them in managing their condition better and in making sure they get the best out of their medication.

“The role of the community pharmacist is often seen as purely dispensing drugs but pharmacists can play a key role in delivering healthcare in the high street, neighbourhood centre or supermarket.

“They are an integral part of the NHS at the heart of the community, are open longer hours than many GP surgeries and are often a short walk or drive away.”

The Epilepsy Society also consulted with The Medway School of Pharmacy and the Royal Pharmaceutical Society to put together the medicines optimisation briefing.

The brief guides pharmacists into questioning patients about their medication and any problems they are having including side effects such as memory loss, irritability, tiredness and cognitive difficulties.

Issues such as memory loss, anxiety and depression often accompany the condition, the Epilepsy Society said.

The new MUR also highlights specific issues that can affect women of childbearing age, such as the potential of certain anti-epileptic drugs to reduce the effectiveness of the contraceptive pill and the risks of certain medication harming unborn children during pregnancy.

Eade said: “We have been really pleased to work with the PSNC to develop an MUR consultation briefing.

“It very much complements the suite of information that we are able to offer pharmacists through a dedicated area of our website and we very much hope it will help to make a difference to the lives of people with epilepsy.”