Biologics and biosimilars – what are they?

By Jayne Lawrence, Head of Division of Pharmacy and Optometry, University of Manchester.

The Commissioning Framework for Biological Medicines announced recently by NHS England will both help guide improvements to developing better medicines for patients and provide a guide to ensuring the NHS gets best value for money from these innovative, exciting medicines.

What is a biologic?
Biological medicines have made many new, groundbreaking treatments possible, significantly im-proving the lives of many patients with long term conditions such as diabetes, arthritis, anaemia associated with chronic kidney failure, and types of cancer.

They are extremely expensive, in part due to the complexity of their production. For example, a course of a new immunotherapy drug typically costs more than £100,000 per patient per year. Furthermore, as biologicals currently comprise approximately 50% of all new drug approvals, it is likely that the high cost of new medicines is with us for the foreseeable future. Consequently, any way of reducing the cost of these important medicines is vital. Read more Biologics and biosimilars – what are they?

Referring patients from hospital to community pharmacy

heidi 1By Heidi Wright, RPS Practice and Policy Lead for England

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.

The upshot is that vital medicines can end up being taken late, or not at all, because the details needed to ensure the safe transfer of medicines information between care settings have not been provided or followed up.

Today East Lancashire Hospitals NHS Trust is launching their pioneering ‘Refer-to-Pharmacy’ scheme which tackles this problem head-on.  It involves patients in hospital being visited by a hospital pharmacist or pharmacy technician, who then sets up an electronic referral appointment with the patient’s chosen community pharmacist. Read more Referring patients from hospital to community pharmacy

Working in mental health: why I love it

Wendy Ackroyd lead pharmacist mental healthby Wendy Ackroyd MRPharmS, lead clinical pharmacist in mental health for NHS Dumfries and Galloway.

I decided to try mental health pharmacy on for size, for six months. That was 15 years ago now. It was a good fit.

When working in community pharmacy, I looked at a list of psychiatric drugs on prescriptions (usually combinations the BNF has a black dot against) and felt out of my depth to challenge it. I imagine there are a few of my colleagues who do this now.

Mental health problems are hard to measure – diagnostic criteria overlaps, you can have more than one at a time and the evidence base is… lets say RCTs contain a few less than the 18,000 subjects you see in a trial of a statin. Read more Working in mental health: why I love it

Diary of a Pre-Reg: How Research Changed the System

Processed with VSCOcam with c1 preset By Andrew Carruthers, Pre-registration  Hospital Pharmacist with NHS GGC

Within NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde,     pharmacists and nursing staff were concerned. The vancomycin guidelines, which required maintenance doses to be administered during the night, were leaving patients exhausted. Read more Diary of a Pre-Reg: How Research Changed the System

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