Lithium is prescribed and monitored in primary care under shared care arrangements. If you are concerned about a patient’s lithium level, renal function or thyroid function, contact the specialist mental health team for advice
Lithium is commonly used to treat bipolar disorder and is a long-term treatment for episodes of mania, hypomania and depression.
For lithium to be effective, the levels of lithium in the patient’s blood must be within a certain range. Patients require regular (3 monthly) blood tests to ensure lithium levels are not too high or too low. Too high and the patient may experience lithium toxicity (severe hand tremor, sickness, diarrhoea, muscle weakness, slurring of words, blurred vision, confusion, fatigue). Too low and symptoms will not be controlled and the patient may suffer a relapse in mental state.
Kidney and thyroid function must also be checked every 6 months.
While taking lithium, patients should avoid using non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), ACE inhibitors and diuretics.
The proprietary (brand) name of “Camcolit 250mg tablets” has changed to “Lithium Carbonate Essential Pharma 250 mg film-coated tablets”, effective from 1st October 2015.
The product strength and formulation have not changed, only the name has changed.
This name change only applies to Camcolit 250mg. Please note, the product name for “Camcolit 400mg prolonged release Lithium carbonate film-coated tablet” is not affected.
Patients should receive the same brand of lithium product consistently because brands from different manufacturers may not be bioequivalent. It is therefore vital that the new name is written in full by the prescriber.
Actions for practices
Prescribers should prescribe “Lithium Carbonate Essential Pharma 250 mg film-coated tablets” for those patients already established on “Camcolit 250mg tablets”.
Prescribers and pharmacists should inform patients about the name change and the need to take the same brand of lithium consistently.
Prescribers will need to ensure that their patients’ NHS lithium treatment cards and booklets are updated to reflect this change.