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’

Supporting and managing diabetes among the South Asian diaspora

How the pharmacy profession can play a huge role in providing effective support and care

Diabetes and the population

Type 2 diabetes is a preventable long-term condition which is currently highly prevalent and steadily increasing.

Research has shown that some ethnicities are at higher risk for developing the condition. South Asian people make up the second largest ethnic group in the UK, after the white population, and are at an increased risk of developing Type 2 diabetes in comparison. With the condition being up to six times more common in this ethnic group, it is a growing problem in the community.

“It is important that culturally appropriate advice is provided to those of South Asian origin”

The average age of onset in this group is 25, as opposed to 40 in the White population. There are a number of health complications related to diabetes, which include cardiovascular risk and mental health. It is therefore important that culturally appropriate advice is provided to those of South Asian origin, including advice about fasting, diet and exercise.

Read more Supporting and managing diabetes among the South Asian diaspora

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

Has Chris found a Peer?

Chris John talks you through peer discussion

Has a letter post-marked ‘Canada Square’ dropped on your door mat yet?  You know!  The one informing you that your CPD revalidation records have been selected for review by the GPhC (that’s if you revalidated for the first time at the end of October 2018).  No me neither. So I am getting on with planning my peer discussion so it’s ready (along with my 4 CPD records and reflective account) to be pinged to the GPhC by 31 October 2019. Read more Has Chris found a Peer?

How pharmacy shaped the fizzy drinks industry

Jodie Williamson MRPharmS, Pharmacist at the Royal Pharmaceutical Society
Jodie Williamson MRPharmS

by Jodie Williamson, Pharmacist and Professional Development and Engagement Lead at the Royal Pharmaceutical Society in Wales.

I’m sure many of us have enjoyed the occasional fizzy drink over the Christmas period, but did you know that pharmacy was instrumental in developing this industry? 

 

Soda – the fountain of health? 

During the late 19th Century soda fountains were a common feature of chemists’ shops across America. Pharmacists would create syrups, often with medicinal properties, and mix them with soda from the fountain. In 1876 Philadelphia pharmacist Charles Hires created his blend of root beer, Hires’ Root Beer, which claimed to give “New Life to the Old Folks, Pleasure to the Parents and Health to the Children”. Read more How pharmacy shaped the fizzy drinks industry

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

Winter Wellness

Jodie Williamson MRPharmS, Pharmacist at the Royal Pharmaceutical Society
Jodie Williamson MRPharmS

by Jodie Williamson, Pharmacist and Professional Development and Engagement Lead at the Royal Pharmaceutical Society in Wales.

We often hear about the pressures facing the NHS during the winter months but did you know that there are steps that we can all take to stay well this Winter that can help to relieve this pressure?

Read more Winter Wellness

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