How many medicines make too many medicines?

by Neal Patel MRPharmS, RPS Head of Corporate Communications

Too many patients take too many medicines.  Polypharmacy, defined as the use of many medicines by one person, is increasingly common and here to stay.  Pharmacists see patients everyday who have difficulties with the large number of medicines they’ve been prescribed.  But is polypharmacy just bad practice, or a reflection of the complexity of modern healthcare?

A new report from the King’s Fund, Polypharmacy and Medicines Optimisation, shows how the practice has both negative and positive potential, depending on the quality of care the patient receives.  An important part of this care is how an individual is helped to understand and use their medicines to best effect – in short, medicines optimisation. Read more How many medicines make too many medicines?

Medicines optimisation in England

Heidi Wright

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

Helping patients get the best out of their medicines is one of the most important things a pharmacist can do. Earlier this year the Royal Pharmaceutical Society published guidance for pharmacists and other healthcare professionals in England to help them do this. Read more Medicines optimisation in England

Driving under the influence of drugs

Ash_Soni_0411by Ash Soni, Vice-Chair, English Pharmacy Board

Driving under the influence of drugs is an offence.  If you think this just means illegal drugs such as cannabis or cocaine, you’d be wrong.  The law doesn’t distinguish between illegal drugs and prescription medicines for genuine illnesses.

The  government is consulting  on plans to introduce a new offence of driving with a drug in the body, above a certain limit, to tackle the issue of drug-driving. Read more Driving under the influence of drugs

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?

Campaign to combat medicine waste in Wales

By Jonathan Simms, Clinical Director of Pharmacy, Aneurin Bevan Health Board

Aneurin Bevan Health Board launched a campaign at the end of January this year as part of an initiative to raise awareness of medicine waste, how medicines are wasted and the part that patients and the public can play in helping to reduce this waste.

Medicines play an important part in promoting well-being, preventing ill-health and managing disease.  However, few of us think about the medicines that we waste, how they are disposed of, or how much they cost. Read more Campaign to combat medicine waste in Wales

Medicines waste: We should focus on prevention rather than cure

By Neal Patel, Royal Pharmaceutical Society, Head of Corporate Communications

Throwing away medicines rather than using them as intended is a huge problem.

At time when the NHS is having to find £20 billion pounds worth of savings it’s absolutely right that we should all focus on areas on efficiency which feel like (financial) gain with very little, (service loss) pain.

The York Health Economics Consortium, and The School of Pharmacy, University of London, founds that in England in 2009 NHS primary and community care prescription medicines waste cost £300 million.

That is a lot of hip operations. Read more Medicines waste: We should focus on prevention rather than cure