The history of cosmetics – unwrapped

By Matthew Johnston, RPS Museum

‘Removes blotches,’ ‘clears the complexion,’ ‘removes freckles, pimples, and all spots.’

Turn on your TV or open a magazine and you might see these words advertising the latest beauty product, but in fact they come from the Roman writer Pliny the Elder’s description of a substance called crocodilea – the dung or intestinal contents of a crocodile.

As well as its uses in skincare it was recommended as an eye salve, taken internally for epilepsy, and as a pessary for stimulating menstrual flow.

Partnerships
In 2016 the RPS Museum became a partner in a research project on ancient skincare, funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council’s Science in Culture strand. Now, as the study reaches its conclusion, the team – including researchers from the Universities of Oxford, Glasgow and Keele – are going to showcase some of the findings in a series of events at the Royal Pharmaceutical Society on 15th and 16th  February. Read more The history of cosmetics – unwrapped

The ‘FIP Bug’

By Kiri Aikman, Clinical Writer for Pharmaceutical Press

I caught the ‘FIP bug’ after attending my first world congress in Dublin in 2013. It was unexpected. I’d been to plenty of conferences before, but this one was different. The sheer scale, with around 3,000 delegates from over 20 counties, blew me away. Every attendee was passionate about enhancing pharmacy practice and used this international gathering to showcase their amazing work and learn about improving patient care.

FIP is the International Pharmaceutical Federation; the global voice of pharmacists and pharmaceutical scientists. Being my first international conference, and as a junior pharmacist from little old New Zealand, I was more than a little nervous walking into this prestigious event. What I quickly learnt though, was that FIP was more of a pharmacy family; sharing ideas and opinions with like-minded people. They even have a “first timers” programme to ease you in and instantly make you feel comfortable.

Read more The ‘FIP Bug’

Antimicrobial stewardship – are you doing your bit?

by Jacquie Sneddon, Project Lead for the Scottish Antimicrobial Prescribing Group

Antimicrobial resistance (AMR) is one of the top threats to human healthcare with an estimated 50,000 deaths per year from resistant infection across Europe and the US. This figure will reach 10 million by 2050 unless we act now to tackle antimicrobial resistance.

With few new antibiotics in the pipeline we need to ensure we are using antibiotics appropriately – this means cut out unnecessary use and ensure when they are required that prescriptions comply with evidence-based guidance. This is the basis of antimicrobial stewardship. So what does this mean for pharmacists?

AMS is important in all sectors of pharmacy

Read more Antimicrobial stewardship – are you doing your bit?

Don’t put off your pre-reg exam revision

Pre-reg revision course speaker, NadiaBy Nadia Bukhari, Senior Teaching Fellow & Pre-reg coordinator, UCL School of Pharmacy

Have you started thinking about your knowledge gaps and what your revision should look like between now and the exam in the summer? You may well think that the GPhC summer assessment is so far away that its too early to think about it now. However from my experience in working very closely with pre-reg trainees over several years, those who begin making plans in January are far more likely to pass the exam come June.

The best place to kick off your preparation for the assessment is at the RPS pre-registration revision course in London on the 26-27 January and there are several reasons for this.

As a mentor for emerging young leaders taking an active interest in their development and building their skills, I have an invested interest in pre-registration trainees getting the results they want when the GPhC release the results later in the year.

Don’t wait, get in early

Joining an RPS revision course early is the best thing you can do and this can really set you up for the remainder of your pre-registration year and beyond. This year, delegates will be allowed to take their mock exam papers away, which will be invaluable in helping to identify and address the knowledge gaps over the following months. You will also have a great opportunity to network and meet new peers who could be a really important part of your support or social network going forward, as well as the contact you will have with some of the top experts in pre-registration and early years pharmacy. These interactions should not be underestimated and the courses provide a fantastic platform for this.

What you can expect from the pre-reg revision course

The courses have been designed by a team of expert professionals to give pre-registration trainees a real taste for what the GPhC exam requires to pass and what it feels like to actually take part in one. Please take a look at an example programme.

The first day offers an intense overview of the exam contents and aims to bring everyone up to speed ready for the mini mock on day two. You will be taken through core topics such as, the essentials of pharmacy law and ethics, pharmaceutical calculations and high risk drugs and therapeutic drug monitoring.

The second day is a mini mock exam, sat in full exam conditions to give you the ideal preparation ahead of the real thing! This year, for the first time, you will be able to take the exam away so you can use it for your own revision at home.

Our revision courses have been a great success for many years now and the feedback is always great. We know that of our members who attended one of our courses last year, 91% of them went on to pass the exam. A previous delegate said that the course is “vital to knowing what to expect in the exam and how to plan forward revision”.

Don’t hesitate and book your place at one of the RPS pre-reg revision courses now to give yourself the best chance of passing the exam and making it to practice.

Build a successful grant application

Successful grant application writer

by Justine Tomlinson, Leeds Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust

Here is my experience in building a successful grant application. With a background in community pharmacy, and in terms of research I’d only ever been involved with company audit and practice questionnaires. Starting my PhD was a challenging experience for a number of reasons; the main one being that I needed to prepare a grant application for funding. I absolutely did not know where to start or what I required in order to give myself the best chances of being successful. It all felt rather overwhelming!

I decided to attend the RPS’ two-day Research Proposal Writing workshop (early 2017) facilitated by Professor Felicity Smith, to see what I could learn in the way of ‘grantsmanship’. The different sessions within the workshop touched on absolutely everything that I needed to know to begin building a successful application – from creating a sound research plan to enlisting co-applicants and utilising public and patient involvement effectively.

The small group size was great. This meant there was time to discuss everyone’s ideas and develop personal action plans. It was encouraging to be able to talk about my own research with like-minded individuals and get feedback from the RPS research team and Felicity. We also had the opportunity to speak with other pharmacists who had won grants and were embarking on their research journeys. Hearing from them was truly inspirational.

Following the workshop, the RPS research team have continued to provide an amazing amount of support. It took me four months to build my application for the NIHR Research for Patient Benefit competition. I put everything into practice that I learnt during the workshop and I am pleased to report that I have been successful at stage one of the competition. I am continuing to utilise the knowledge and skills from the workshop to build my stage two application (outcome due early 2018).

If you are struggling to get started with your research grant funding application then book onto our two day Research Proposal Writing workshop, led by expert Professor Felicity Smith of UCL School of Pharmacy.

 

Pre reg revision course – my experience

Michelle, previous pre reg revision course attendee

by Michelle Clothier, Relief Pharmacist – Boots

When I first saw the advertisement for the RPS pre reg revision course event I was in two minds whether to go along. Half of me thought about the price and that it was far for me to travel, and the other half told me that it would be a good idea to go just to see how the exam would be laid out and get an experience of a pre-registration exam. Then a mock day came up in the city of Newcastle (close to my home) and I just knew that I had to go.

Day 1

I was really nervous the first day, particularly because I didn’t know many people there and partly because I knew my calculations were weak and I didn’t want people to notice my weakness. However, after the first day I quickly realised that I was not the only person worried about calculations and it gave me a glimmer of hope.

I arrived early and everyone was in good spirits, the check in process was quick and simple and I got my name badge and entered the hall. I sat on a table with only one other person I knew and we started working through the workbook provided. We were given the GPhC framework for the exam and lots of important learning materials including a list of the high risk drugs and everything you could ever need to know about them. Lunch was provided on both days (which was lovely and catered for everyone), and tea and coffee was flowing for everyone throughout the day. The main thing I learned on the first day was how to go about a number of calculations and I used the method I had written down to practice everyday until the exam. This is why the first day is so good! Methods are explained in detail and you are given time to write everything down so that you can use all of your notes for revision!

Day 2

This was the actual mock exam. I was tired (you don’t sleep much before the actual exam so this was perfect) and I was nervous despite it being a mock. It was clearly explained how the day was going to run and it was actually a perfect representation of how the actual exam did run. I didn’t pass the exam, but it gave me hope because I was quite close to the pass mark of 70%. As we marked our own paper I made a list of the points of which I got wrong so I could start to build my revision around them. You didn’t have to tell anyone the mark you achieved unless you wanted to.

Building up to the (real) assessment

After those two days, I used the framework given by the RPS and the points I had made to really start revising, and, despite failing the mock I passed the real thing!

I would highly recommend this mock to all pre-registration pharmacists. It is well worth the money because it is the foundation required to begin revision, it is an opportunity to mingle with other pre-regs who are all feeling as nervous as you are and you make new friends – all of who will be there with you and for you in your career in pharmacy. Don’t forget, no question is a stupid question – it is guaranteed that someone else in that room is wondering the same thing as you are.

The professionals from the RPS are there to share their knowledge and experience, ask your questions and learn as much as you can, take the resources and pass your exam. It sounds simple and perhaps cliche, but you get out what you put in and the RPS mock exam is the perfect opportunity to put in effort and get out knowledge and experience.

Honestly well worth it!

Visit the pre-reg revision courses events page to book your place today.

 

 

Antimicrobial resistance – Are we losing the battle against bacteria?

By Dr Claire Thompson, RPS Deputy Chief Scientist

Meeting with world health officials in October, Prof Dame Sally Davies, England’s Chief Medical Officer, repeated her warning that if antibiotics lose their effectiveness it would spell the end of modern medicine.

It has been 18 months since Jim O’Neill made his final recommendations on how we can tackle antimicrobial resistance (AMR) globally.  These included the need to:

– Increase public awareness of AMR;
– Reduce the over/inappropriate use of antibiotics;
– Prevent the spread of infections;
– Increase research into new antibiotics by generating a $2bn Global Innovation Fund.

Since then, little has changed within the UK.

At the BioInfect 2017 event Jo Pisani, Pharma & Life Sciences Partner at PwC, gave her state of the nation address on antibiotics and was disappointed to see that little has changed in the pipeline of new antibiotics since the O’Neill reports. “The UK has opportunity to be world leader in antibiotic development, but with so few companies involved in antibiotic R&D, how do we advance the pipelines?” she said.

Source: Antimicrobial resistance: The state of the nation report on UK R&D. PwC. https://www.pwc.co.uk/industries/healthcare/insights/antimicrobial-resistance.html

Where are the new antibiotics?

At the moment, there are less than 100 scientists in the Pharma Industry who are working on new antibiotics. This is mainly due to the lack of reimbursement models for antibiotics.

There have been calls for new models and incentives for developing antibiotics, such as exclusivities on market entry akin to those which are in place for orphan drugs or paediatric medicines, but these are yet to come to fruition.

This means that organisations such as the AMR Centre, charities such as Antibiotics Research, and small companies like Auspherix are leading the charge in developing new antibiotic medicines.
In order to progress the development of new antibiotics, we need to stop focussing on what they are going to cost and start thinking of cost of not having them.

What are we doing to combat AMR?

The key to overcoming AMR is not just about new antibiotics; improving stewardship and raising awareness are imperative. As a profession, these are some of the activities we are involved in.

Public engagement and awareness
With 1.6 million pharmacy visits per day, pharmacists are perfectly positioned to talk with patients and the public about what antimicrobial resistance is, when antibiotics are required, and how to take them. The Test and Treat service at pharmacies is under-utilised. Currently, people aren’t aware of it and don’t know they can talk to their pharmacist.

Antimicrobial Stewardship Programme
In September, the RPS launched the Antimicrobial Stewardship programme  which contains reference, guidelines and support tools for pharmacists.

What impact can we have?

In 2016, Government set a challenge of reducing inappropriate antibiotic prescribing by 50% by 2020. Pharmacists are integral to this. As a profession, we still have some work to do to ensure that the public know that they can talk to pharmacists about health concerns and to get advice on medicines. But the impact we can have as pharmacists (on raising awareness and providing stewardship) and as pharmaceutical scientists (in developing new antibiotics) is enormous.

A tweet from the BioInfect 2017 summarised this perfectly “Great way to cut queues at your GP. Talk to your pharmacist and conserve our antibiotics”.

Contrary to the saying, resistance is not futile – it is rife. But the war on bacteria is not over! Please play your part.

Mother was right!

“Wash your hands when you come in”, “Make sure you wash before dinner”, “Show me your hands” – just some of the echos of my childhood which I’m sure many of you recognise.
Ahead of World Antibiotic Awareness Week  and European Antibiotic Awareness Day  I spent much of my time at the RPS researching, collating and checking resources to support antimicrobial stewardship for the RPS AMS Portal.
I learnt a lot and guess what – our mothers were right!  One of the simplest ways to reduce the use of antimicrobials is hand washing (or hand hygiene as it is referred to in healthcare settings).  Not just to remove visible dirt but to remove bacteria and viruses which could cause infections such as upset stomachs, coughs, colds or pneumonia. Washing your hands properly should take 20 seconds, as long as it takes to sing “Happy Birthday to you” twice.
Simple you think – but wait – the RPS Handwashing essential guide states that 84% of British adults don’t wash their hands for long enough and 65% of people don’t always wash their hands before eating. The infographic below has other figures which make uncomfortable reading.

I mentioned these gruesome figures one evening at home and an unexpected consequence was that my daughter, who teaches a Year 2 class, was interested in using this information at school in some way.  I suggested having a look at the e-bug resource (another resource found during my AMS research) and together with the ‘handwashing and mouldy bread experiment’ (look it up on youtube!) she formulated a lesson plan.  The children loved it – and it became a feature of their end of term assembly.
So, what started as a literature review style research project on antimicrobial stewardship and resistance ended up as a theme for a school assembly.  It illustrates that antimicrobial stewardship belongs to us all – organisations, health professionals and all ages of members of the public.  Now, during World Antibiotic Awareness Week, take some time to have a look at the AMS Portal.  This is essentially a signposting resource linking to antimicrobial stewardship resources under six key categories: strategy, policy and guidance; clinical and technical guidance, initiatives and campaigns, training and educations resources, journals; and organisations.  The AMS Portal focuses on GB resources for pharmacists and pharmacy teams although we recognise the need to signpost to worldwide information and resources from outside GB are also included.
Have a browse – you might even find yourself influencing another school lesson or even humming ‘Happy Birthday to you, Happy Birthday to you………………….’!

Grant application success!

Kristina Medlinskiene, previous course attendee

Writing a grant application for the first time is not easy to say the least (or maybe it never gets easy). I recall my very early start on this endeavour with very rough knowledge of what it may entail. The RPS two-day research proposal workshop gave me clarity but it also raised many more questions about issues I hadn’t even thought about!

Patient public involvement group? Advisory group? Before the workshop I had not thought about forming these groups or had any idea how to do it. Methodology? Theoretical framework? Detailed costs of the project? Just a few things that I needed to find answers to.

The format of the two days stimulated thinking about your project and the grant application. Most importantly it gave me a direction, a sense of ‘right, this is clearer now’. By the end of the two days I had a preliminary action plan with identified crucial tasks that I needed to address first.

The two days consisted of presentations and workshops covering various topics from how to build a case for the funding application, to the data processing and analysis. Whilst some topics were covered briefly, I read more about it in the book provided and referred back to it for some quick pointers.

Personally, the biggest benefit of attending the two-day workshop alongside the workshops was networking. You not only get a chance to meet and hear experiences of pharmacists who have gone through the process but also ask them for advice later when you are writing your application and get stuck! They were incredibly helpful.

As I have learnt writing a grant application requires a lot of commitment, persistence and some sleepless nights. Get all the help you can, even if it means pushing barriers of your confidence!

If you don’t know how to start writing an application, these workshops could be what you need. They helped me with my application writing.

The RPS will be running a research proposal writing workshop on the 6-7th March 2018. See our events page for more information and to book your place. This course has very limited numbers so please don’t hesitate and secure yours now. We want to ensure you get the grant funding you deserve by writing a successful grant application.

Community pharmacists against common infections

Jonathan BurtonArticle by Jonathan Burton, Community pharmacist, Vice Chair of the Scottish Pharmacy Board

I work in a community pharmacy setting and as you might imagine I see many people through the day who present with various symptoms, wanting advice about their ailments and how to treat them. As winter closes in, these symptoms are for the most part those associated with seasonal coughs and colds, sore throats and ear ache. Read more Community pharmacists against common infections