This care service understands that anticipatory medicines are those intended for prompt relief of distressing symptoms for a person who is receiving palliative care for a terminal illness. Anticipatory medicines, which will usually include controlled drugs, will be most frequently used in the last stages of a person’s life. The medicines are made available in advance of their need so that they can be accessed as soon as they are needed.

The medicines will usually be prescribed by the person’s GP or nurse practitioner, for use during the out-of-hours periods when access to the patient’s own general practice and regular pharmacy may not be possible, but immediate relief is required. Anticipatory medicines could cover a range of terminal illnesses or potentially fatal conditions, notably cancer, but also heart, neurological and respiratory conditions.


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