Pharmacy in prison – uniquely challenging, uniquely rewarding

Tom Cox MRPharmS, Community Pharmacist and RPS Welsh Pharmacy Board member
Tom Cox MRPharmS, Lead Prison Pharmacist, North Wales

by Tom Cox MRPharmS, Lead Prison Pharmacist.

Medicines optimisation in prison – the challenge

It’s long been recognised within prison populations that there’s a high prevalence of substance use disorder in connection with prescription medicines. This is often found alongside problematic polypharmacy situations.[i] My main objective as a Lead Prison Pharmacist is to optimise medicines and resolve problematic polypharmacy, to try and rehabilitate people held in custody.

Medicines optimisation within a prison takes many forms, just as it does in other areas of health care. It starts with comprehensive medicines reconciliation when people arrive at the prison. Compared with the general population, people in custody have often lived chaotic lifestyles, either on the outside of prison, or perhaps in other prisons, so the first step is to understand what they have been taking, and how they have or have not been managing their medicines.

A particular problem we encounter during medicines reconciliation is that when a person arrives in prison, they often have other people’s prescription medicines in their possession, as well as their own. This forms important evidence for any resulting medicines optimisation.

Read more Pharmacy in prison – uniquely challenging, uniquely rewarding

Pharmacy behind bars – the challenges

crichards150x150 By Cathryn Richards, Head of Pharmaceutical Services, HMP Swansea

Being a prison pharmacist has its own set of challenges but challenges tend to reap their own rewards. Most of the time I feel like I’m making a positive difference to the lives of some of the most vulnerable in society.

I work in a Category B prison holding 445 adult male prisoners with the majority being Welsh.

Prisoners often arrive at the prison emaciated by drugs and alcohol, weak physically and mentally. Read more Pharmacy behind bars – the challenges