Better information on patient information leaflets

By Professor D.K Theo Raynor, Professor of Pharmacy Practice, University of Leeds
A new report published by the Academy of Medical Sciences says that medicine information leaflets are too scary with too much focus on the potential side-effects of medicines and not enough on their benefits. The report calls for them to be rewritten to give a more balanced view.

This is a comprehensive and thoughtful report looking at enhancing the use of scientific evidence to judge the potential benefits and harms of medicines. Of particular interests to those working in Pharmacy are the recommendations relating to patient information leaflets (PILs) – found in the pack of every medicine dispensed in the UK. The key recommendations relating to ‘Improving the content of PILs’ are:

• All parties to improve the comprehension and readability of patient information leaflets in line with the current legislation.
• This should ensure a balanced appraisal of the medicine’s potential benefits and risks is made accessible in these documents.

These recommendations echo the recent report for the European Commission on the ‘shortcomings’ of PILs produced by the Universities of Utrecht and Leeds.(1) Not mentioned in the Academy’s report is that for more than 10 years, manufacturers have had to ‘user test’ their PILs with lay people – so they are already ‘revised in consultation with patients and carers’. Despite this testing, further improvements are needed, with a more rigorous application of the user testing process, ensuring that it is iterative – with repeated testing and improvement until the required level of readability is reached. Read more Better information on patient information leaflets

A medicine review is about stopping medicine as much as it is about prescribing

By Dr Mahendra Patel, English Pharmacy Board Member

The RPS has published a joint report with RCGP on polypharmacy “The challenge of polypharmacy: from rhetoric to reality”. The report is a practical guide for the delivery of improved care and increased safety of our patients.

Multimorbidity is perceived as an inevitable consequence of an ageing population, with increasing ‘polypharmacy’ necessary to prevent complications arising from long term conditions.  Patient conditions are often treated individually and they are prescribed medicines accordingly. However, medicines that were once prescribed may no longer be necessary as well as in some instances new medicines may not be required. Pharmacists have a key role in supporting patients to get the most out of their medicines and ensure that they are only taking the medicines that they actually need. Read more A medicine review is about stopping medicine as much as it is about prescribing

Research is everyone’s business

By Sonia Garner, Research Support Manager, RPS

Research is a young person’s game, an academic career pathway, something that doesn’t apply to me – to me, a middle-aged pharmacy professional with a background in community pharmacy support.  So it was with some trepidation that I found myself booked into the NHS Research and Development (R&D) Forum Conference in Manchester, May 15-16 2017: not only booked in as a delegate but with a poster presentation and an RPS stand to man.  So how did this come about?

Ten months ago I was appointed to cover a maternity leave position at the Royal Pharmaceutical Society (RPS) as a Research Support Manager with responsibility for the Research Ready accreditation scheme for community pharmacy. Read more Research is everyone’s business

What is the concern about Atrial Fibrillation?

Sharron

By Sharon Gordon, Pharmacist Consultant Anticoagulation & Faculty Fellow of The Royal Pharmaceutical Society

Atrial Fibrillation (AF) is the most common sustained cardiac arrhythmia affecting 1-2% of the UK population. AF is affecting approximately 10% of the population over 75 years old and 18% of those over 85 years old. It is a predominant cause of stroke and a serious concern in in our aging population. Clinical outcomes in terms of increased disability are considerably worse for AF-associated stroke and mortality from stroke is doubled in patients with AF. Read more What is the concern about Atrial Fibrillation?

How to get an NIHR research fellowship

Mandy WanBy Mandy Wan, Lead Paediatric Clinical Trials Pharmacist at Guy’s and St Thomas’ NHS Foundation Trust and HEE/ NIHR Doctoral Research Fellow

I was delighted to hear just before Christmas that I was successful with an NIHR fellowship application and want to encourage more pharmacists to apply for funding and to lead research.

I have been a paediatric clinical trials pharmacist for most of the past 10 years, so am lucky to already be closely engaged in research work and have an understanding of how research can really impact day to day practice.
I applied for NIHR funding 2 years ago but I wasn’t successful. This time, I decided to apply again with a different topic. My research question came from a common query that kept coming through to the pharmacy department; what dose of Vitamin D is appropriate in children? Read more How to get an NIHR research fellowship

The rise of antibiotic resistant bacteria

Dr Jacqueline Sneddon

Dr Jacqueline Sneddon MRPharmS FFRPS
Project Lead for Scottish Antimicrobial Prescribing Group

Consider this scenario. Your younger child has been awake all night, crying with earache. They’re upset and tired, and so are you. Your older child had a flu bug last week, and you have already taken three days off work to look after them. You’ll take the little one to the doctor in the morning and get antibiotics to clear it up. You’ll probably have to pester the GP for them, but you’ll do it so your child feels better quickly and you can go back to work sooner.

In addition to being really worried about our little ones, as parents, we also have to cope with the guilt of being away from work for too long, and for many parents this is unpaid leave.
The sight of a poorly child is an upsetting one. The hope that antibiotics will reduce the time our children suffer with pain, sometimes means that exhausted and worried parents demand a prescription for antibiotics, even though the GP didn’t really think they were necessary. Read more The rise of antibiotic resistant bacteria

Stop the over medication of people with learning disabilities

david-banford(1)By David Branford, Chief Pharmacist, Derby Hospital


The nation was shocked by the Panorama expose of cruel behaviour to people with a learning disability living at Winterbourne View in Bristol. The subsequent enquiry not only raised many concerns about the care of people with a learning disability but also about the use of antipsychotics and antidepressants.

Subsequent investigations and actions took two paths. The first, a series of studies demonstrated widespread use of many categories of psychotropic drugs often in combinations. In addition there was widespread use of PRN psychotropic drugs. The second was NICE guidelines relating to aspects of treatment of people with a learning disability.
Stopping Over-medication of People with Learning Disabilities (STOMPLD) 2016 is a campaign launched by Alistair Burt today. It aims to improve the quality of life of people with a learning disability, by reducing the harm of inappropriate psychotropic drugs which are used as a “chemical restraint” in place of other more appropriate care and treatments. Read more Stop the over medication of people with learning disabilities

My Faculty Journey

JOnathan Burtonby Jonathan Burton

I guess I had several motivations for wanting to join the RPS Faculty. I liked the idea of gaining some recognition for being committed to my job, always trying to do things better and taking a real interest in my profession. I also thought it would be a useful process in terms of helping me identify my weak areas of practice, I’m a contractor as well as a patient facing pharmacist so I find it quite difficult to access peer review, I’ve always sort of made up my professional development as I’ve gone along! Read more My Faculty Journey

Become a dementia friend

dementiafriendsBy Thomas Banning, Locum Pharmacist, Brecon

Dementia is a growing problem in our ageing population. According to the Alzheimer’s Society, 25 million of the UK population have a close friend or family member with dementia.

Dementia Awareness Week gives us a chance to reflect on what we can do to support our friends, families, and colleagues with this condition. In my opinion, it is particularly important that pharmacists, like myself, and other health professionals, who come into daily contact with older people, understand what patients with dementia experience on a daily basis. Read more Become a dementia friend

Why asthma still kills

Anna MurphyBy Professor Anna Murphy, Consultant Respiratory Pharmacist

Every year approximately 1400 people die from asthma in the UK, more than the number of deaths from asthma in Austria, Finland, Sweden, Poland and Portugal combined.

 Approximately 5.6 million people live with asthma in UK. Asthma symptoms and exacerbations have shown to impact significantly on people’s quality of life and activities of daily living affecting sleep and the ability to go to work or school or exercise.  Those with more severe disease live with the uncertainty of unplanned emergency visits to their GPs or hospital and for some a fear of death. Read more Why asthma still kills