Adaptive clinical trials – could patients benefit?

Photo - Liz Allen

by Liz Allen, Visiting Professor, Faculty of Life Sciences and Medicine, King’s College London and Quintiles, Early Clinical Development

What is a clinical trial?
Clinical trials are studies designed to evaluate the effectiveness and safety of potential new medicines. Clinical trials are divided into four phases (Phase I, II, III and real world late phase studies sometime called Phase IV).

Phase 1 requires a small number of subjects, usually healthy volunteers though more recently such studies involve small numbers of patients. As the development moves from phase to phase increasingly large numbers of patients become involved and the cost escalates. It is estimated that about 40% to 50% of drugs that enter phase III studies will fail, by which point a pharmaceutical company will have invested close to one billion pounds. Read more Adaptive clinical trials – could patients benefit?

People with dementia in care homes need pharmacist-led medicine reviews

Laurance Thraves Alzheimers Societyby Laurence Thraves, Senior Policy Officer, Alzheimer’s Society

70 per cent of people with dementia have one or more other long-term health condition. As GPs and other medical professional try to treat these conditions, people with dementia can end up on a cocktail of drugs that exacerbate their symptoms. Using their specialist skills, pharmacists can play a vital role in improving how medicines are used in care homes and, as a result, the quality of life for the 280,000 people with dementia living there. Read more People with dementia in care homes need pharmacist-led medicine reviews

What effect does space have on medicines?

Colin Cableby Colin Cable, RPS Assistant Chief Scientist

Since Tim Peake became the first British astronaut to go to the International Space Station, there has been a huge resurgence of interest in life in space. Although highly trained and very fit, astronauts will still occasionally need medicines and of course there is the possibility that at some point a medical emergency will occur in space.  To address this, the space station keeps supplies of medicines and the necessary equipment.  So how does being in space affect medicines? Read more What effect does space have on medicines?

Referring patients from hospital to community pharmacy

heidi 1By Heidi Wright, RPS Practice and Policy Lead for England

Research shows that around 60% of patients have 3 or more medicines changed during their hospital stay, 20% experience side-effects after having their medicines changed and almost half of all patients experience an error with their medicines after they are discharged from hospital.

The upshot is that vital medicines can end up being taken late, or not at all, because the details needed to ensure the safe transfer of medicines information between care settings have not been provided or followed up.

Today East Lancashire Hospitals NHS Trust is launching their pioneering ‘Refer-to-Pharmacy’ scheme which tackles this problem head-on.  It involves patients in hospital being visited by a hospital pharmacist or pharmacy technician, who then sets up an electronic referral appointment with the patient’s chosen community pharmacist. Read more Referring patients from hospital to community pharmacy

Our new policy manifesto for Wales

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By Suzanne Scott-Thomas, Chair, Welsh Pharmacy Board

In May 2016 people in Wales will cast their votes in the elections to the National Assembly.  Engaging with politicians in the run up to the election is vitally important in helping us secure a better future for patients and the pharmacy profession in Wales.

That’s why we’ve launched our policy vision for Wales, Steps to better health and wellbeing to help shape the manifestos of the political parties.  It highlights the importance of maximising the pharmacy workforce and using clinical pharmacy skills to help address the current and future demands on NHS services. Read more Our new policy manifesto for Wales

How can pharmacists fight antibiotic resistance?

jaynelawrenceby Professor Jayne Lawrence, Chief Scientist, Royal Pharmaceutical Society

Antibiotic resistance occurs when medicines are no longer effective in treating bacterial infections. This is potentially catastrophic, as much of modern medicine would become impossible without antibiotics.  Simple infections would become life-threatening and common surgery would become unsafe.  Antibiotics are not effective against viral infections, yet they are often used to treat them. Pharmacists are on the frontline of fighting antibiotic resistance, but how can we make a difference in practice? Read more How can pharmacists fight antibiotic resistance?

Getting started as a clinical pharmacist

rachel_hall-150by Rachel Hall, clinical pharmacist

I’m a clinical pharmacist and partner at the Old School Surgery in Bristol, an inner city practice with more than 15,000 patients.

Getting started as a practice pharmacist
During my training, I worked for one day a week at the practice, specialising in treating patients with type 2 diabetes. This work convinced the partners they needed a permanent clinical pharmacist, rather than taking on a salaried GP. Read more Getting started as a clinical pharmacist

A global approach to antibiotic resistance

Picture Harpal Dhillon Chair RPS AMR groupBy Harpal Dhillon, Chair of the RPS Antimicrobial Expert Advisory Group

Bringing any new drug to market is a time consuming, costly and high-risk endeavour that typically takes 10 years, at an average development cost of about $1.3 billion U.S.

Even then, only one in five drugs tested in people is approved and reaches the market.  For antibiotics, the economic considerations are more challenging than for many other medical areas.  In addition to the unique scientific and regulatory challenges in antibiotic development, pricing and reimbursement do not reflect the true value of these life-saving drugs. Read more A global approach to antibiotic resistance

Prescribing for people with learning disabilities must change

Sandra Gidley 3by Sandra Gidley, Chair, English Pharmacy Board

Early last week three separate reports from the Care Quality Commission, Public Health England and NHS Improving Quality were released and painted a poor and depressing picture of the level of prescribing of antipsychotics and antidepressants in those with learning disabilities.

Following the release of the reports, I co-signed, on behalf of the RPS English Pharmacy Board, a letter from NHS England stating that the scale of the problem was unacceptable and that an emergency summit was being arranged to agree how to tackle the problem. The letter was also signed by the Royal College of Psychiatrists and the Royal College of Nursing. Read more Prescribing for people with learning disabilities must change

Pharmacists working in GP practices: mythbusting

howard-duffby Howard Duff, RPS Director of England

Talking to pharmacists during a C&D Twitterchat today about pharmacists working in GP surgeries was a great experience.  It also revealed some of the misunderstandings that exist about this innovative development in primary care. I’d like to set the record straight, so here are the top 5 myths I hear frequently about this topic and my answers to them. Read more Pharmacists working in GP practices: mythbusting