Following the BBC Watchdog investigation into the availability of stimulant laxatives in the UK, first broadcast on Thursday 16 October the MHRA have issued a statement recognising the issues and advising of the recent review of patient information for non-prescription laxatives, recommending that stronger warnings should be added emphasising that taking laxatives regularly and for a long time is harmful and they do not aid weight loss.
North East CCGs are the highest prescribers of laxatives in England and Medicines Optimisation teams are working with practices and CCGs to address some of the issues surrounding this locally.
The MHRA statement in full:
“Most laxative medicines are used by patients safely and in accordance with the instructions for use on the patient information leaflet (PIL), however we do recognise that some patients misuse or abuse them. The Patient and Public Engagement Expert Advisory Group (EAG) which reports to the Commission on Human Medicines (CHM) has recently reviewed the patient information for non-prescription laxatives and has recommended that stronger warnings should be added emphasising that taking laxatives regularly for a long time is harmful and they do not aid weight loss. We are currently working with companies of stimulant laxative products to introduce these updated warnings which should provide consistency across the range of stimulant laxative products available.
“We continuously monitor the safety of all medicines in the UK including concerns about misuse and abuse, and where necessary, we will take suitable action to safeguard public health within our regulatory remit. We would remind the public that anyone who self-medicates and buys their medicines from unauthorised internet sites could be in danger of receiving counterfeit or substandard medicines. We will continue to monitor the safety of non-prescription laxatives and will take further action if necessary.”