Charlie Macfarlane was cleaning out the koi pond in his backyard when his arm became infected. His doctor prescribed antibiotics. During that period of time I had a fairly significant allergic reaction to something. And at the end of it, they said to me you know it’s possible you’re allergic to penicillin. Which was pretty scary. Penicillin antibiotics help fight serious bacterial infections and are widely used and are also widely to blame for allergies that don’t actually exist say experts at Sunnybrook’s drug safety clinic. The skin is going to be done on your upper arm. Hundreds of people are tested here every year for drug sensitvities and allergies. And when it comes to penicillin allergies, Dr. Elizabeth Weber says the vast majority of people who believe they are allergic are actually not. It could be a drug-drug interaction, so one with another drug they are already on, it could be a drug -food interaction, it could be a drug-viral or bacterial interaction but nobody takes that into consideration. Ok, your skin test is negative. That’s the job of the Drug Safety Clinic. Testing like this is important because there is a danger to wrongly thinking you have a penicillin allergy. The danger is they’re being given more toxic drugs, not first-line drugs. Drugs that may cause more side effects that may not treat the infection as well as a penicillin. After coming here following a referral from his doctor, Charlie discovered he wasn’t allergic to penicllin and now urges others to get tested too. If you’re told that you possibly have a condition which could be life threatening and it could be, you’re silly not to go and find out exactly what the answer is. He now feels safe around penicillin, but still takes great care around his koi pond. With Sunnyview, I’m Monica Matys.