Pharmacies can help in the battle to beat Hepatitis C

By Dr Suman Verma, co-chair of the London Joint Working Group of Substance Use and Hepatitis C and Hepatology Consultant at Chelsea and Westminster Hospital

This month the London Joint Working Group on Substance Use and Hepatitis C published results of an innovative pilot project that offered point-of-contact hepatitis C testing to people who use needle exchange services in 8 community pharmacies across London. More than half of those tested (53%) had hepatitis C antibodies and were referred directly into specialist services via newly created referral pathways for further tests and for potentially life-saving treatment. Of those engaging with specialist services, 78% had detectable hepatitis C virus particles in their blood and 33% had advanced liver disease with cirrhosis.

Whilst the scale of this pilot is small, its implications are huge. Hepatitis C is a serious public health issue in London.  Public Health England estimate there are more than 40,000 people living with the virus and around half of these people are undiagnosed. Read more Pharmacies can help in the battle to beat Hepatitis C

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 improving 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?

Behind the scenes: BBC filming ‘Addicted to pleasure’ at the RPS Museum

By John Betts, RPS Museum Officer

Earlier this year a BBC production team spent 2 days filming our current controlled drugs display at the Royal Pharmaceutical Society Museum, for the ‘Addicted to Pleasure’ series. Read more Behind the scenes: BBC filming ‘Addicted to pleasure’ at the RPS Museum

Aspirin and Cancer

By Rachel Airley, EPB Board member and Senior Lecturer in Pharmacology

There is now wealth of evidence from clinical trials that aspirin can not only prevent cancer, but can also slow the growth and spread of bowel cancers already present.  While the evidence is there, doctors and pharmacists have been somewhat reticent when it comes to recommending the wholesale use of aspirin in patients at risk, or already undergoing treatment for bowel cancer, due to fears that this will lead to side effects such as gastric ulcer or bleeding.

Read more Aspirin and Cancer