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 look into China’s history of pharmacy and herbal medicine

A72BB1 The Great Wall Mutianyu China

PILLS, PAGODAS AND PEKING DUCK: THE PHARMACY IN CHINA TOUR 2016

In November 2016, twenty RPS members had the chance to take part in the ‘Pharmacy in China Tour 2016. Fellow of the RPS Dr Stuart Anderson FRPharmS, led the trip, he shares his two week experience.

“When I was told in September 2015 that the RPS were hoping to support a study tour to China with Jon Baines tours and asked me if I might be interested in acting as tour leader I jumped at the chance, having previously visited Shanghai and Hong Kong. After a lot of planning and promotion the two-week Pharmacy in China Tour finally took place in November 2016.

Twenty of us met up for the first time at our hotel in Beijing on Saturday afternoon. It was a delightfully mixed group; some recently and some not so recently retired pharmacists and their partners, some still with very busy careers, either just beginning and others well established, and some pharmacy students who had managed to take time out from their studies. Backgrounds too extended from community pharmacy proprietors to hospital, regulatory and industrial pharmacists. In the evening we met up with our Chinese guide, Zhong (‘John’). Read more A look into China’s history of pharmacy and herbal medicine

Homeopathy – should pharmacists be selling homeopathic products?

jaynelawrenceBy Professor Jayne Lawrence FFRPS FRPharmS, Chief Scientist, Royal Pharmaceutical Society

Once again homeopathy is in the news. In fact it hardly ever seems to be out of it. It is certainly a subject that elicits much passion from both those who support it and those who believe it to be quackery. Read more Homeopathy – should pharmacists be selling homeopathic products?

Diary of a Pre-reg: supporting clinicians with research

Natalie WeirBy Natalie Weir ARPharmS, pre-registration pharmacist at the Southern General Hospital in Glasgow.

Early on in my degree I had an interest in neurology, and chose to do my dissertation investigating how a risk gene for schizophrenia impacted on neuroanatomical regions. As it housed the Institute of Neurosciences, I had ambitions to do my pre-registration year at the Southern General Hospital and was ecstatic when I was successful! Read more Diary of a Pre-reg: supporting clinicians with research

Personalised medicine – is it really new?

jaynelawrenceby Professor Jayne Lawrence, RPS Chief Science Advisor

Personalised medicine is the practice of using an individual’s genetic profile to inform decisions made about an individual’s treatment plan. It’s regularly hailed in the media as the next great medical revolution, but hasn’t it always been with us in one way or another?

Personalised medicine is not a new concept. As long as 2,000 years ago there was an understanding that we should all be treated as individuals, consistent with beliefs about medicine at that time. Read more Personalised medicine – is it really new?

Dispensing doctors and pharmacists working side-by-side

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERABy Aileen Bryson, Policy and Practice Lead, RPS Scotland

The viability of dispensing doctor practices and the threat of pharmacy applications has been all over the media recently and yesterday BBC Radio Scotland reported from Aberfoyle, interviewing the local practice and the prospective pharmacy owner. They then came to us for our views on the whole situation. It was interesting that one rather well know resident seemed to be of the opinion that a ‘real doctor ‘giving them their medicines was preferable to a ‘chemist ‘. Read more Dispensing doctors and pharmacists working side-by-side

Expiry dates on medicines

nealpatel2by Neal Patel, MRPharmS and RPS Head of Corporate Communications

Are you one of those people who take no notice of expiry dates on food? Do you take a chance and eat it anyway after the expiry date as you’ve had no problems so far?

If you take the same approach with medicines you could find yourself in trouble. Medicines can become harmful or lose their effectiveness after their expiry date, so you may become ill or find you don’t get better as you should. The shelf-life of a medicine is determined by the breakdown of the active ingredients and they will all deteriorate at different rates. Read more Expiry dates on medicines

How to get the most out of your medicines

Heidi Wrightby Heidi Wright, RPS Practice and Policy Lead for England.

Getting the best out of your medicines is important.  Medicines stop us getting ill, help us stay healthy, control our illnesses or cure them.  But using them isn’t always easy.   Between 30-50% of people don’t take their medicines as recommended, so if you are experiencing problems, you’re not alone. Read more How to get the most out of your medicines

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