Ghost pill: knowledge and awareness of this phenomenon among health care professionals

Tongeji E. Tungaraza, Pravija Talapan-Manikoth, Yvonne M. Eboka, Nazima Mahmood, Sandeep K. Bains, Kiran Sihota


Background: Slow release (SR) drug formulations associated with the passage of intact tablet like object in faeces sometimes known as the “ghost pill” have been in the market for many years. Anecdotal evidence suggests that few health care professionals are aware of this phenomenon. Our study aims were to find out what proportion of health care professionals was aware of the ghost pill phenomena and what drug formulations and specific drugs were associated with it.

Methods: A survey was conducted among health care professionals at three hospital sights in the West Midlands, UK. The subjects included doctors, nursing staff, pharmacists, and other allied professionals involved in patient care.

Results: A total of 321 health care professionals were included in the final analysis. Very few, 12.8% (41) have heard of the ghost pill phenomenon and a further 14 (4.4%) have come across of a patient who has experienced it. Only 13 (4%) correctly associated the phenomenon with SR drug formulations.

Conclusion: Our survey has shown that the ghost pill phenomenon, a normal outcome of a novel way of delivering orally taken SR drugs, is not well-known among health care professionals. Lack of awareness of it has implications to trainers, medical and nonmedical prescribers and nursing staff working with patients who are taking these medications. Lack of awareness among health care staff, may result in relevant information not being shared with patients at the time of prescribing or when patients enquires of it.


Slow release, Ghost pill, Pharmacokinetic

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