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Date: 24 October 2020

Time: 21:16

Pharmacy service

  • Long established and experienced
  • Friendly and informative
  • Dedicated to providing a first class service to our patients

The Pharmacy service to the HIV clinic was established in 1999 and was the first clinic in the West Midlands to offer adherence counselling and information to patients about their medication from a pharmacist.

At the Queen Elizabeth Hospital Birmingham we offer a full and comprehensive service to all. We pride ourselves on being friendly and knowledgeable.

What do we offer?

One-to-one counselling on antiretroviral medication, when starting medication, and long-term support

Patients taking antiretrovirals are encouraged to discuss any issues or concerns they may have about their medication with the Pharmacist.

Starting medication

When a person starts on antiretrovirals it is imperative that they understand the importance of good adherence to their medication.

Good adherence means:

  1. making sure that all doses are taken at the same time every day
  2. the medication is taken in the correct dose and number of times a day
  3. with or without food depending on the medication prescribed
Why is good adherence to HIV medication so important?

It is imperative that adequate levels of drug are in the body at all times, in a sufficient amount to suppress the virus. Poor adherence leads to problems with resistance to the medication and this can result in failure of the virus to respond to the medication. Therefore treatment must be changed.

The more resistance to drugs a person has, the harder it is to suppress their viral load (or reduce the amount of HIV virus in the blood). This means regimens become more and more complicated and the number of pills they have to take increases. It is important therefore to establish a good routine from the very start.

Patients will be fully informed of the need to achieve good adherence and the pharmacist can assist in establishing routines, helping adjust dosage times and generally offer support and reassurance.

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Information on side effects and how to manage these

When starting treatment for HIV, the Pharmacist will discuss with the patient all the medication they are to take, including any side effects they may suffer and how to deal with them.

It is important to remember that all drugs have side effects and once the drug has been taken for a while, the side effects should disappear, usually within four to five weeks. However, if this is not the case the Pharmacist is available to discuss how to manage and control them.

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Information on drug interactions with antiretroviral medication

It is also important that anyone taking antiretrovirals does not take any other medication which could stop their drugs working or increase the levels and cause side effects. This can include prescription drugs, recreational drugs, herbal remedies, over-the-counter medicines (those you can buy in the chemist's) and alternative therapies (Chinese medicines for example).

The Pharmacist is available to offer advice on potential interactions and which medication you should avoid or are safe to take. It is always best to check with the Pharmacist before starting any medication while you are taking antiretrovirals.

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Advice on travel

The Pharmacist can also advise on travel medications, for example:

  • which anti-malarial is suitable for which country, and more importantly which are safe to be taken with antiretrovirals
  • information on travel vaccination and help with adjusting timings of medication to coincide with different time zones in other countries

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Dedicated adherence clinics

There is a specific adherence clinic run by the Pharmacist on Wednesday afternoons. This is available outside of normal clinic hours for any one who requires extra help and support with their medication. It is also used to counsel patients new to treatment, which allows them to spend more time with the Pharmacist and ask any questions they may need to.

When it is suggested that someone requires treatment they are asked to see the Pharmacist who will counsel them on the medication. This includes information on how to take the medication, the best times to take it, any food restrictions, how to manage the medication (information on missing doses, vomiting etc) and what to do should anything concern them. Also, we can give information specific to the individual drugs, including side effects, long-term effects, storage and interactions with other medication.

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Contact details

Specialist HIV pharmacists:

Sutej Sivia (Mondays to Friday)
Rishender Singh (Mondays to Friday)

To contact us please call 0121 371 2000. Please note there is no pharmacist available on Tuesdays.

Outpatient Pharmacy Department:

09:00-17:00, Monday to Friday
Closed on Saturdays

To contact the Outpatient Pharmacy Department for queries regarding supplies of medication, please call 0121 371 2000.

Main Pharmacy Department:

09:00-17:00, Monday to Friday
09:00-12:00, Saturday

To contact the main Pharmacy Department, please call 0121 371 2000.

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