How medicines are made

By Yvonne Perrie, Professor in Pharmaceutics/Drug Delivery

A large number of medicines are currently available to treat a wide range of medical conditions. However, when we take a pill to treat a headache, or when we get vaccinated to prevent ourselves getting a disease, we rarely consider how much effort it took to develop the medicine. UK pharmaceutical scientists play a major role in creating new medicines, improving existing ones and ensuring they are used effectively.  This contributes not only to the health and wealth of the British nation, but also to improving health at a global level. Read more How medicines are made

World AIDS Day – HIV testing on the high street

By Mel Snelling, Lead on HIV and Infectious Diseases Pharmacist

It is World AIDS Day on 1 December 2012.
To mark World Aids Day the Health Protection Agency released statistics revealing there were 6,280 new HIV diagnoses in 2011, making the total number of people living with HIV in the UK 96,000. The data also shows that although late HIV diagnoses dropped slightly in 2011 a quarter of people with HIV are still unaware that they have the virus. It’s really important that these people get tested and into treatment as soon as possible.

Read more World AIDS Day – HIV testing on the high street

Aspirin and Cancer

By Rachel Airley, EPB Board member and Senior Lecturer in Pharmacology

There is now wealth of evidence from clinical trials that aspirin can not only prevent cancer, but can also slow the growth and spread of bowel cancers already present.  While the evidence is there, doctors and pharmacists have been somewhat reticent when it comes to recommending the wholesale use of aspirin in patients at risk, or already undergoing treatment for bowel cancer, due to fears that this will lead to side effects such as gastric ulcer or bleeding.

Read more Aspirin and Cancer

Insomnia: The dangers of self-diagnosis

By Paul Johnson, community pharmacist

Insomnia is a very common problem, with 1 in 3 of us having a problem with sleeping at some point in our lives. It can be extremely distressing and can cause fatigue and anxiety.

Because you’re sleeping badly it makes sense to think you have insomnia. Recent research from the RPS states that 51% of people who have diagnosed themselves with insomnia have bought sleeping remedies without getting any advice from a health professional, such as a pharmacist. This is a problem because the vast majority of insomnia relates to an underlying health issue such as anxiety, depression, asthma or heart disease.  If you don’t get good advice, this problem will remain untreated. Read more Insomnia: The dangers of self-diagnosis

Branded versus generic medicines: is there any difference?

By Colin Cable, Pharmaceutical Science Information Adviser

Medicines have undoubtedly made a huge difference to the lives of millions of people.

But why do some medicines have more than one name? Read more Branded versus generic medicines: is there any difference?

Can veterinary oncology guide us to new treatments for human cancer?

By Rachel Airley, EPB Board member and Senior Lecturer in Pharmacology

Thanks to the availability of pet insurance, more and more pet owners are able to get access to ever more sophisticated treatments, offering hope that for our furry friends diseases once considered untreatable will no longer be a death sentence.

Like humans, dogs and cats may develop cancer- in particular, bone, breast and skin cancers, as well as blood cancers such as lymphoma and leukaemia. The human and animal versions of the disease share similar characteristics so this has led to vets specialising in cancer to wonder whether research into the development of cancer treatment for use in naturally occurring veterinary cancers may give us important information about the way cancers work. This could turn out to be an important stepping stone for developing new anticancer drugs for use in humans. Read more Can veterinary oncology guide us to new treatments for human cancer?

Doping at the Olympics: why the cheats won’t win

By Tony Moffat, Emeritus Professor, UCL School of Pharmacy

“If you cheat, you will be caught” is the message to all the competitors in the London 2012 Olympics and Paralympics. There will be a total of over 6,000 samples tested during the games which includes samples from all the medallists and samples from about half of all of the competitors. So, if a competitor takes a drug that puts them in a medal position in their event, they will be found out, disqualified and will have their medal taken away. This is to counter doping in sport – the use of artificial enhancements to gain advantage over others in competition which is fundamentally contrary to the spirit of sport. Read more Doping at the Olympics: why the cheats won’t win

Aspirin – a cure all?

By Sotiris Antoniou, Consultant Pharmacist Cardiovascular Medicine, St Bartholomews Hospital, London

Every day there seems to be new research about aspirin, much of it contradictory. Interest in aspirin has never been greater, but is it really the cure-all it’s sometimes portrayed as in the media? And what should pharmacists be recommending to patients who come in self-medicating with low-dose aspirin? Read more Aspirin – a cure all?

How can we improve transfer of medicines information?

By Heidi Wright, RPS Policy and Practice Lead

Taking a medicine is the most frequent method that patients use to improve their health. In particular, older people and those with long term conditions rely heavily on medicines as a way of managing their illnesses.  These patients, often with strict and complicated medication regimes, are some of the most vulnerable to problems with their medicines when they transfer care settings. Whether it’s from care homes to hospitals, or mental health hospitals to home, these are times when the risk of medication errors tends to increase.

In fact, 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. Read more How can we improve transfer of medicines information?

Mental Health Awareness Week 2012

By Dave Branford, Chief Mental Health Pharmacist

Mental Awareness Health Week starts today (21-28 May). The theme for Mental Health Awareness Week (run by the Mental Health Foundation) is altruism – Doing Good Does You Good. The week will focus on how by helping others you can help yourself, including random acts of kindness, volunteering and peer support

So how altruistic am I? Do I go that extra mile for people with mental health problems? I probably do because it is part of being a pharmacist; part of being a healthcare professional.  Somehow it is different when it is a patient. I am quite happy to close the door and turn off the computer when it is just dealing with never ending paperwork but when it is a person – that’s different. Altruism –going the extra mile is in the blood of pharmacy.

But what about mental health? It’s easy for me, you might say, because it’s my job. On a day to day basis I am interacting with some of the most mentally unwell people you can imagine.  Medicines play a huge part in both making and keeping them well.  Most of my career has been in mental health. What about the rest of the profession! Read more Mental Health Awareness Week 2012