Fact sheets

What are Specials?

A 'Special' is an unlicensed medicine that has been made especially to suit your needs. Your doctor will tell you if they have prescribed you or your child a Special and they will also tell you why. You may have been prescribed a Special for a number of different reasons; however it will be because there is no licensed alternative that is suitable to help treat you. It may be that you're allergic to the medicine, that the medicine you need is currently unavailable or maybe you have difficulty swallowing tablets.

Unlicensed medicines are made up of well-known medicinal ingredients that can, sometimes, just be mixed in a different way or provided as liquid instead of a tablet.

How Specials are made

The doctor who has prescribed your medicine will write on a prescription what needs to be in the medicine for your treatment. In most cases the pharmacist will order your medicine from a 'Specials manufacturer' who will hold a Specials Licence. Manufacturers who hold a licence have proved that the products they produce are safe and made to a high quality as a pharmaceutical medicine.

How to take your Special

Your doctor and pharmacist will do their utmost to ensure you get your medicine as speedily as possible, however because it has to be ordered and sometimes made especially for you, you may have to collect it the following day.

Your medicine will have been prescribed to you by a doctor and usually prepared by a Specials manufacturer. In order for the medicine to be effective you must follow the instructions accompanying it, including when and how often you should take it.

As with any medicine, licensed or unlicensed, there are occasionally side effects. If you have any serious side effects or reactions, it is important that you contact your doctor or pharmacist as soon as possible. They have a duty of care to you and will need to know this information to help care for you.

The code of ethics says that the patient is the first concern to a doctor or pharmacist, so they need to be sure that the quality, safety and effectiveness is top notch before they pass it on to you.

More information

If you have any questions regarding your medication then always discuss these with your doctor or pharmacist who will be happy to help.