Monday Pharmaceutical Mystery: April 8

Why is this woman taking a drug used to treat prostate problems?

A customer presents at the cash register with a bag of medications. She is asking for her money back, and would like to speak to the manager. She says that she knows this medication is for prostate problems and she does not have a prostate!

You look in the bag and see a prescription for tamsulosin and potassium citrate (Urocit-K, Mission). Her name is on the labels. You know that tamsulosin is in fact used for benign prostatic hypertrophy.1

Mystery: How did this happen? Was there a mistake?

Solution: Tamsulosin is often used to help pass kidney stones.2 It's commonly used in emergencies rooms for both men and women. Tamsulosin helps the narrow passageways relax so the stones can leave the body easier. It can be used in combination with potassium citrate (and other drugs, depending on the composition of the renal stones) to prevent the formation of renal stones.1

Ask the patient if she has kidney stones, if she says yes, the prescription was filled correctly.


  • El-Gamal O, El-Bendary M, Ragab M, et al: Role of combined use of potassium citrate and tamsulosin in the management of uric acid distal ureteral calculi. Urol Res 2012; 40(3):219-224. PubMed Abstract: Accessed April 8, 2019.
  • Malo C, Audette-Cote JS, Emond M, et al: Tamsulosin for treatment of unilateral distal ureterolithiasis: a systematic review and meta-analysis. CJEM 2014; 16(3):229-242. PubMed Abstract: Accessed April 8, 2019.

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