400 years of the Pharmacopoeia Londinensis

 By Karen Horn, RPS Librarian

December 2018 sees the 400-year anniversary of the Pharmacopoeia Londinensis (second issue).  We are lucky enough to have a copy in the RPS Library’s early printed collection.  Produced by the Royal College of Physicians, it was the first authoritative, standard pharmacopoeia for the whole of England – Scotland and Ireland later producing their own.

It lists all the drugs authorised for use by the Physicians. These include the stomach lining of hens, used as an astringent, and opium.  Preparations of opium are still in use today.

Signs and symbols

The title page of this Pharmacopoeia is fascinating.  Rich with symbols of power, the Tetragrammaton, Hebrew for God, appears on a cloud from which a hand reaches out to hold the coat of arms of James VI of Scotland/I England.

The College of Physicians’ own coat of arms is situated alongside four important figures who influenced the development of medicine: Galen, Avicenna, Hippocrates and Mesue. The presence of all these images is no coincidence: they emphasise the authority of the College of Physicians.

As interesting as the Pharmacopoeia Londinensis is in its own right, there’s something about our volume which makes it all the more exciting.

 

Sir William Paddy and ‘Principis Ferdinandi’


Discovered in Brussels in 1955, our copy contains handwritten notes contemporary to the period in which it was published.  The majority of these are headed ℞ for ‘Recipe’ or prescription.  Further notes in French include instructions for the dispensing of certain medicines and their uses.

It also includes the name of William Paddy in a handwritten inscription at the foot of the title page.  Sir William Paddy was born in 1554 and was President of the College of Physicians in 1618.  As a Fellow, he is likely to have been involved with its production.  He was also physician to James I.

Paddy is not the only prominent name in the inscription. Whilst the ink has faded in some places, the name ‘Principis Ferdinandi’ is also legible alongside it.  So, who was ‘Principis Ferdinandi’?  The most obvious candidate would seem to be  Ferdinand II, Holy Roman Emperor (1578-1637), although Ferdinand of Bavaria (1577-1650) might also be a contender.  To complicate matters further, a third individual seems to be mentioned, but much of his name is now illegible.  The inscription tells us that our copy of the Pharmacopoeia Londinensis was presented as a gift … but by whom, to whom?

We may never know for certain whose hand wrote the notes and inscription. We will certainly never know all the secrets this volume holds of its journey from London to Brussels and back again.

If you can shed any light on the mystery surrounding our copy of the Pharmacopoeia Londinensis, we would love to hear from you. If you would like to book an appointment to see this and other pharmacopoeias in our early printed collection, please email library@rpharms.com.

 

Outside the comfort zone – getting involved in politics as an RPS member

by Elin Gwyn MRPharmS, Palliative Care Pharmacist, Betsi Cadwalladr Health Board

The latest meeting of the Welsh Assembly’s Cross Party Group on Hospice and Palliative Care was recently held at on Friday 23rd November. Royal Pharmaceutical Society in Wales asked me to attend the meeting on its behalf. With RPS having just recently launched its policy on palliative and end of life care, its engagement and membership of this group is very timely.

The purpose of cross party groups is to bring together groups and organizations with expertise in a particular policy area with Assembly members who are interested in the same area. The cross party groups don’t have power, but they are used to raise Assembly members’ awareness of issues related to the field so that they can scrutinise and challenge the government and the NHS more effectively.

Read more Outside the comfort zone – getting involved in politics as an RPS member

Rpharms.com – why so different?

We’ve been listening to your feedback about rpharms.com. You told us you love the content on the site, but it can be hard to find. You also told us some of the best bits of RPS membership are hidden and it’s not always clear what we do for pharmacy.

So, say “hello” to our new website – designed by…you!

The new site will give you a clear view about what we do and how we do it

Recognition. Development. Publications.

We’ve moved the good stuff to the top so it’s easier to find and navigate – you’ll find a consistent theme across the site, and all our communications.

  • We drive recognition of pharmacy through our campaigns to secure the future for the profession. We make sure your voice is heard across Government and in the media
  • Our publications, from the Pharmaceutical Journal, BNF, MEP and Pharmacy guides, help you provide safe and effective medicine use for your patients
  • We support your development at all stages of your career, from students, pre-reg’s, newly qualified and more experienced pharmacists, our development programmes match your career goals.

I’m really proud of what the team at RPS has achieved with the new site. We believe it’s clear and easier to use. Of course we will be updating and changing as we get feedback from you. We’ve also got further improvements planned to make the website experience even better. Let me know if you love the site, if you hate it, or if you have any suggestions about improvements @nealcpatel

Follow Chris’s revalidation tips

I’m Chris John from the Royal Pharmaceutical Society (RPS) – welcome to my blog. As Head of Workforce Development I look at the standards, guidance, and policies that will develop our profession. Having been involved in the RPS approach to supporting its members with revalidation I decided to write a blog about my own journey with staying on the register.  Each month I will cover different aspects of a new additional way us pharmacists have to keep our knowledge and skills up-to-date – the peer discussion.  The what, who, where and how. I hope you find my blog to be informative as well as an enjoyable read – do let me know.

Who will Chris choose for his peer discussion?

Chris’s peer discussion blog

 

Pharmacy in prison – uniquely challenging, uniquely rewarding

Tom Cox MRPharmS, Community Pharmacist and RPS Welsh Pharmacy Board member
Tom Cox MRPharmS, Lead Prison Pharmacist, North Wales

by Tom Cox MRPharmS, Lead Prison Pharmacist.

Medicines optimisation in prison – the challenge

It’s long been recognised within prison populations that there’s a high prevalence of substance use disorder in connection with prescription medicines. This is often found alongside problematic polypharmacy situations.[i] My main objective as a Lead Prison Pharmacist is to optimise medicines and resolve problematic polypharmacy, to try and rehabilitate people held in custody.

Medicines optimisation within a prison takes many forms, just as it does in other areas of health care. It starts with comprehensive medicines reconciliation when people arrive at the prison. Compared with the general population, people in custody have often lived chaotic lifestyles, either on the outside of prison, or perhaps in other prisons, so the first step is to understand what they have been taking, and how they have or have not been managing their medicines.

A particular problem we encounter during medicines reconciliation is that when a person arrives in prison, they often have other people’s prescription medicines in their possession, as well as their own. This forms important evidence for any resulting medicines optimisation.

Read more Pharmacy in prison – uniquely challenging, uniquely rewarding

World AIDS Day 2018: When a friend has AIDS

by John Betts, RPS Museum, Keeper of the Museum Collections

The history of pharmacy is usually thought of in terms of drug development and its ability to transform patient’s lives. Rarely do museums have an object in their collection that communicates what it was like to live with a life-threatening illness before there were any effective treatments.

The RPS Museum has a leaflet published by GMHC (Gay Men’s Health Crisis) in 1984, at the beginning of the HIV/AIDS epidemic, which does just that.

When A Friend Has AIDS provides advice to the friends of people living with AIDS on how they can offer them support.

Written with a great deal of compassion, it gives a moving insight into what living with HIV/AIDS was like at this time, from both the patient’s and friend’s point of view. Reading it never fails to move me to tears. Read more World AIDS Day 2018: When a friend has AIDS

Who will Chris choose for his peer discussion?

As the season of good will is fast approaching, I am hoping I can persuade someone to act as my peer for my peer discussion as part of revalidation (I will resort to offering bribery in the form of mince pies etc. if necessary).

Previously I wrote in this blog about my own journey with staying on the register of pharmacists and how I would be approaching the peer discussion – one of the new ways us pharmacists have to keep up-to-date.  Last time it was the ‘what’, now I’m considering the ‘who’. Read more Who will Chris choose for his peer discussion?

Learning from failures of care at Gosport

Catherine Picton, Professional Secretary, RPS Hospital Expert Advisory Group

At least 450 patients are thought to have died after the administration of inappropriately high doses of opioids between 1988 and 2000 at Gosport War Memorial Hospital. In June 2018 the report of the Gosport Independent Panel into failures of care was published.

Like many reading the report I was shocked. Most sobering was that this practice remained unchallenged for a prolonged period of time, despite initial concerns being raised by relatives of patients and nursing staff, and prescribing being outside accepted good practice.

Read more Learning from failures of care at Gosport

A good life to the very end…

Chief Pharmacist and Clinical Director of Pharmacy and Medicines management for Cardiff and Vale University Health Board
Darell Baker, Chief Pharmacist and Clinical Director of Pharmacy and Medicines management for Cardiff and Vale University Health Board

by Darrell Baker FFRPS, Chief Pharmacist and Clinical Director of Pharmacy and Medicines management for Cardiff and Vale University Health Board

A good life to the very end…

For human beings, life is meaningful because it is a story, and in stories endings matter
(Atul Gawande)

Quality palliative and end of life care is important and medicines can have a key role to play in facilitating that quality of care for many of our patients. On behalf of the Chief Pharmacists in NHS Wales, I am pleased to have supported the development of the RPS Wales policy document and to endorse its key recommendations.

 

Focusing on the individual

Understanding what quality end of life care looks (and feels) like for an individual is an important starting point. Pharmacy staff need to work as integrated members of the multi-professional team around the patient, with access to clinical information about the patient. This way, we are able to respect their wishes and support effective implementation of treatment and symptom management plans, regardless of location.

Read more A good life to the very end…

Have you had your flu vaccine yet?

By Paul Bennett , RPS CEO

I recently had my seasonal flu vaccination – have you had yours?

This is something I do every year. Not only to protect myself, but also my family, my colleagues and people I come into contact with who may be vulnerable. It’s a very sensible precaution because influenza can have a devastating impact if it takes hold. While we often think of flu as something little more than a bad cold, it has a legacy of tragedy behind it. Read more Have you had your flu vaccine yet?