I am what I am! LGBT History Month

By Mike Beaman, FRPharmS, retired pharmacist

I am writing this blog in support of the Royal Pharmaceutical Society’s response to LGBT History Month.  Although not a gay activist I have, nevertheless, been generally open about my lifestyle since coming to terms with being a gay man back in the early 1970s.

I was born in 1947 so I was 19 and a university undergraduate when the legislation decriminalising homosexuality became law in 1967. I was already a young adult and therefore having an intimate relationship with another man before that time would have been a criminal act and would also have resulted in my being sent down from university and unable to eventually register as a pharmacist. Read more I am what I am! LGBT History Month

Biosimilar adalimumab is a test of shared decision making in the NHS

Co-written by the National Rheumatoid Arthritis Society, National Ankylosing Spondylitis Society, RNIB, Birdshot Uveitis Society, Psoriasis Association and Crohn’s & Colitis UK

The entry of new biosimilars and the creation of an NHS ‘local market of treatment options’ will see significant numbers of patients switched from the originator product, Humira, to one of four biosimilar alternatives this year.

Adalimumab is one of several biological drugs used in the treatment of autoimmune inflammatory diseases, including rheumatoid arthritis, ankylosing spondylitis, psoriasis, psoriatic arthritis, non-infectious posterior uveitis, Crohn’s and colitis.

While some patients will take this in their stride, for others the change will be met with feelings of apprehension. Read more Biosimilar adalimumab is a test of shared decision making in the NHS

Polypharmacy – what is it and why is it important?

By Clare Howard, FFRPS FRPharmS, lead author of the RPS guidance Polypharmacy: getting our medicines right

What is polypharmacy?
We know that medicines have an enormous, positive impact on the lives of millions of people. But as more of us live longer, with multiple long-term conditions, we take more and more medicines. Taking many different medicines at once can become either a practical challenge or increase the likelihood of harm, or both.

Problems with polypharmacy happen when: 
• Medicines are prescribed that are no longer clinically indicated, appropriate or optimised for that person
• The harm of a particular medicine outweighs the benefit
• The combination of medicines being taken has the potential to, or is actually causing harm to the person
• Where the practicalities of using the medicines have become unmanageable or are causing harm or distress.  Read more Polypharmacy – what is it and why is it important?

Primary care networks: getting started

by Stephanie West, RPS Regional Liaison Pharmacist

One of the things that excites me as a Regional Liaison Pharmacist for RPS is seeing examples of how local primary care professionals are coming together to discuss good patient care, provided by the right practitioner, close to home. So it was fantastic to see clear recognition of the key roles pharmacists play  Read more Primary care networks: getting started

A brief history of fake medicines: ancient Greeks and ‘trashy elixirs’

By Matthew Johnston, RPS Museum

On 9 February the Falsified Medicines Directive will come into force, making it harder for fake prescription medicines to reach patients. Although this is the latest piece of legislation to tackle counterfeit medicines, the problem is far from a new one.

For as long as branded medicines have been around, authenticity has been important. As early as 500 BC, priestesses on the Greek island of Lemnos supplied tablets of medicinal clay, stamped with a special seal while still wet, in order to guarantee they were the genuine article. Read more A brief history of fake medicines: ancient Greeks and ‘trashy elixirs’

Biosimilars: a great opportunity for pharmacists in England

by Jonathan Campbell, RPS Regional Liaison Pharmacist

Biosimilars have huge benefits for patients and the NHS and offer opportunities for pharmacists too.

The NHS Long Term Plan sets out how “the NHS will move to a new service model in which patients get more options, better support, and properly joined-up care at the right time in the optimal care setting”.

These new models of integrated care will need organisations and their staff to work together across the traditional boundaries of community, general practice and hospital – adopting a system leadership approach to improving population health that puts the patient at its heart. Read more Biosimilars: a great opportunity for pharmacists in England

Making a difference to mental health patients

By Caroline Dada, Lead Pharmacist for Community Services, Gender Identity & Medication Safety Officer

Mental health treatment has been transformed in the last 20 years leading to a significant reduction in the number of inpatient beds. The treatment of mental health is unrecognisable from the asylums of old, thank goodness!

This transformation has led to a major shift in care provision, with many patients with mental health problems being seen by the GP with limited specialist input. GPs have raised concerns about this change, reporting a need for increased knowledge and competence and improved co-operation between primary and secondary care. Patients are also concerned, with 22% reporting they needed more specialist input1. Read more Making a difference to mental health patients

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

How does the Faculty help Pharmacist Independent Prescribers?

By Rob Davies, Pharmacist Independent Prescriber and member of the Welsh Pharmacy Board.

Practice as an Independent Prescriber (IP) involves continuous learning, continuous quality improvement if you like, to ensure that practice always advances to meet patients’ needs.

I see the link between the RPS Faculty and the IP role as a virtuous circle. Prescribing helps my Faculty portfolio, which in turn helps my continuous development as an IP. My prescribing role, subsequent mentorship of colleagues and teaching contributed to my Faculty portfolio, particularly in clusters 1 and 5, ‘Expert Professional Practice’ and ‘Education, Teaching and Development’. Read more How does the Faculty help Pharmacist Independent Prescribers?

Putting antimicrobial stewardship in a global context

By Diane Ashiru-Oredope, Global AMR lead, Commonwealth Pharmacists Association

The independent Review on Antimicrobial Resistance estimated that at least 700,000 deaths each year globally are attributable to drug resistance infections such as bacterial infections, malaria and HIV/AIDS. Unless action is taken, it is thought the burden of deaths from AMR could balloon to 10 million lives each year by 2050 and cost the global economy up to $100 trillion US Dollars.

To help address this, the Department of Health, through the Fleming Fund, has just launched the new Commonwealth Partnerships for Antimicrobial Stewardship (CwPAMS) scheme. This pioneering pharmacy-led initiative will send up to 12 volunteer teams of NHS pharmacists and specialist nurses to Ghana, Tanzania, Uganda and Zambia to work with local health workers to jointly tackle AMR. The scheme is now open for applications.

CwPAMS will help improve the detection and monitoring of resistant infections at the hospital level, take measures to reduce infection and put in place steps to use antibiotics effectively – all of which will help to keep antibiotics working better for longer whilst helping to stop the emergence of superbugs. The scheme is being led by The Tropical Health Education Trust and the Commonwealth Pharmacists’ Association (CPA) and is looking for multi-disciplinary approaches that involve pharmacy.

How will CwPAMS build capacity in AMS?

The CwPAMS programme will apply skills and knowledge from UK pharmacists to support capacity building for AMS in partner institutions. One important aspect of this is improving monitoring of antimicrobial consumption.

Robust monitoring mechanisms are required to help make informed decisions on where to focus efforts to reduce unnecessary use of antimicrobials, and assess the impact initiatives are having. Whilst monitoring both antimicrobial consumption is included in all national action plans on AMR, the capacity to implement this in most low and middle income countries is low. Enhancing monitoring capacity for AMS can also support building wider systems capacity and enable more effective stock control.

How will the CwPAMS scheme benefit pharmacists in the NHS?

There are important benefits for NHS pharmacists not to overlook when considering whether to apply, including:

  • opportunities to develop frugal yet innovative solutions to share with the UK 11/9/2018
  • improved leadership capacity
  • increased job satisfaction
  • improved understanding of digital technology in health
  • greater understanding and experience of working with limited resources and appreciation of the cost of resources within the NHS
  • opportunities for professional development.

How can you get involved and what support is available?

CPA are encouraging pharmacists to apply for this new and exciting opportunity. We recognise applying for grants can seem daunting to those not well immersed in doing so; the RPS are able to offer a range of valuable support in preparing applications. Contact the RPS Research Support Service or email research@rpharms.com.

CPA & THET will also be providing training for those who are awarded grants. To find out more visit the CPA website which includes access to the grant call documents. The grant call closes on 4 January. You can also email the CPA team directly via amr@commonwealthpharmacy.org.