This is the first in a series of in-depth articles The Pharmaceutical Journal will be running on revalidation. The General Pharmaceutical Council is currently evaluating responses to its consultation on the new proposals, which closed on 17 July 2017. In this article, we examine those proposals in detail and explain what they will mean for pharmacists. In future articles we plan to focus on topics including implementation, obstacles and challenges and the ongoing development ...
The 100,000 Genome Project is driving the move from a ‘one size fits all’ approach to treatment, towards personalised, or precision, medicine. Genetic information is also being used by pharmaceutical companies to help speed up drug discovery and development, and reduce the associated costs. Pharmacists will have an important role to play when genomic medicine goes mainstream.
Healthcare professionals are beginning to recognise the importance of keeping our feet in good working order, but does more need to be done to communicate this message to the public? Find out in this feature produced in partnership with RB.
Several companies are working on drone technology to deliver medical supplies, including rabies vaccinations in Rwanda and hospital supplies in Switzerland. However, there are concerns about the practicalities of using drones to deliver medicines, not least the perception of drones as alien or military machines. Drones have a difficult path ahead, but there are enough instances where the case for their use is undeniable.
Rather than generating revenue, it appears that charging people with long-term conditions for their medicines results in patients not filling their prescriptions with hidden costs for their health, for the NHS and for the UK economy as a whole.
Community pharmacists are well placed to assist in the early identification of dementia, as well as to help patients to manage their medicines. However, a wider role for pharmacists, for example, conducting medicines reviews in patients’ homes, will depend on how their clinical role develops.
Multiple myeloma: an expensive revolutionSubscription
New treatments for this rare form of cancer have transformed patient survival rates, but the benefits have come with huge costs.
Pharmacists have a vital role to play in tackling misuse of prescription drugs by young peopleSubscription
As more young people turn from street drugs to prescription drugs for recreation or to enhance academic performance, pharmacists need to increase their vigilance when supplying medicines, either on prescription or over the counter, and be aware of medicines’ potential to end up on the black market.
Pharmacists join the fight against hypertensionSubscription
Some pharmacists are at the forefront of tackling high blood pressure by providing hypertension services within GP practices, community clinics and pharmacies. But to improve the prevention, early detection and management of the condition, these services need to be more widespread.
Rhinovirus, the pathogen behind the common cold, can cause severe, acute lung disease in children and those with underlying respiratory conditions. Since the 1970s, vaccine development has been hindered by the presence of numerous virus serotypes and the lack of a good animal model to test vaccine candidates. However, several different research groups are now making good progress on rhinovirus vaccines, using a variety of different techniques.
Sustainability and transformation plans (STPs) are the blueprints for the future of the NHS, setting out how 44 areas across England — identified as geographical STP ‘footprints’ — plan to get the best health outcomes for their populations from increasingly stretched financial resources.
It is a decade since the National Patient Safety Agency issued guidance on medicines packaging design in a bid to reduce the risk of dispensing errors. But medicines that sound alike or look alike are still responsible for a large proportion of errors. A collaborative approach between manufacturers, regulators and pharmacy organisations is required to tackle the problem.
Getting drugs across the blood-brain barrier could be key to developing more successful therapies to treat central nervous system disorders, such as Alzheimer’s disease, depression and epilepsy. Scientists are investigating a number of ways to achieve this, from using Trojan horses to smuggle drugs across the barrier, to temporary disruption of the barrier using ultrasound, to allow drugs into the brain.
 Details surrounding the UK’s implementation of the Falsified Medicines Directive (FMD) have been clouded by the prospect of Brexit. It is now clear that the FMD will go ahead, but there are mixed views as to whether or not it will offer an efficient way to secure the medicines supply chain.
Could big data be the future of pharmacy?Subscription
The information gleaned from vast amounts of data presents a promising way to maximise the value of medicines, from identifying poor adherence to improving quality of prescribing. Projects in both the UK and the United States are doing just that.
Smart inhalers use Bluetooth technology to detect inhaler use, remind patients when to take their medication and gather data to help guide care. They have the potential to improve patients’ adherence to asthma therapies and keep their condition under control, but it is clear they need to be designed with health systems and patients in mind so that they can offer maximum benefit.
The new urgent medicines supply service takes the load off out-of-hours GP services, but adds bureaucracy for patients and pharmacists.
Research indicates that there are multiple causes for the symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome, and that most of them may involve the microbiome.
Only a few drugs are licensed to treat alcoholism and, although reasonably effective, they are not suitable for everyone. Increased understanding of the underlying neuroscience of alcohol addiction is revealing a wealth of new possible drug targets, and a number of trials are under way.
Atopic dermatitis can have a devastating effect on quality of life, but there have been no major changes to the way it has been treated for over 15 years. Now, two new therapies — dupilumab, a biologic for severe disease, and crisaborole, a topical small molecule drug for milder disease — could herald a new era in the treatment of this distressing condition.
The Murray review: moving in the right directionSubscription
On 20 December 2016, six days after the long-awaited report by the King’s Fund’s Richard Murray on the provision of clinical services in community pharmacy was published, health minister David Mowat described the review as “an essential road map that sets out how we are going to move the community pharmacy network away from a remuneration model”.
Photopharmacology: using light to activate drugsSubscription
Drugs that contain synthetic light-switching molecules could help target therapies to particular parts of the body, limiting side effects. Researchers have started using this approach to tackle blindness, cancer, diabetes, and antibiotic resistance, but questions remain about the clinical practicality of the field.
Pharmacy funding cuts: the story so farSubscription
When the Department of Health revealed in December 2015 that it was planning to cut community pharmacy funding in England by 6%, shockwaves ran through the sector. Now, over a year later, community pharmacies are beginning to feel the impact.
Stem cells: will they redefine stroke treatment?Subscription
Researchers are investigating whether stem cells can be used to restore brain tissue and reverse disability in people who have suffered a stroke, or even to stop the damage from happening in the first place. Recent trial results indicate that the field is making progress towards human application.
Parents of children with treatment-resistant epilepsy are searching for something to help, and some are turning to cannabis to try to reduce seizure frequency. With clinical trials of cannabidiol-based drugs under way, evidence for this treatment option may soon be forthcoming. However, concerns remain about side effects, such as sedation, interactions with other drugs, and potential disturbances of brain development.
In our review of 2016, The Pharmaceutical Journal highlights the people behind the biggest pharmacy stories of the past 12 months. These are men and women who we considered to be the most strongly connected with the news stories that had the biggest impact on our readers.
Acting on the potential of action potentials: will bioelectronic medicines be the next biologics?Subscription
Bioelectronic medicine is a new approach to treating major chronic diseases that could give doctors and patients alternatives to costly mainstream medicine and may become as commonly prescribed as chemical or biological drugs. Some researchers and pharmaceutical companies are already taking this potential new class of treatments seriously and, as promising results emerge, others are expected to follow.
It’s been a long time coming, but a new class of drugs targeting the CGRP protein could be the first preventative treatment specifically developed for migraine to hit the market.
Different parts of Great Britain have taken different approaches to offering minor ailment services. A national service provides consistency, whereas local schemes can adapt to local needs.
A lack of funding for research into chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, as well as difficulties in conducting clinical trials, make finding new treatments for this respiratory condition challenging. But there are glimmers of hope, such as reversing steroid resistance and identifying subpopulations of patients in order to speed up clinical trials.