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.
Seeking a cure for HIVSubscription
Efforts to find a cure for HIV were reinvigorated in 2008 when the case of Timothy Ray Brown showed that a cure is possible. Researchers and pharmaceutical companies are now seeking out the virus in its hiding places in an attempt to eradicate it completely.
Staff working at Guy’s and St Thomas’ Foundation Trust share their thinking around plans to deliver financial savings and improved care for patients in light of the Carter review.
In a world where technology and social media allow individuals to gather information and network online for free, professional associations are evolving and changing their offering to members in order to stay relevant.
Personalised treatment for depression on the horizon: predicting response to antidepressantsSubscription
Only one-third of patients with depression benefit from the first antidepressant they try, but researchers are striving to find biological features that predict how a person will respond to particular drugs so they can tailor treatment from the beginning.
The competency framework for prescribers was updated in July 2016 with the aim of making it a more comprehensive and rationalised document, one that is relevant to all prescribers.
Herpes simplex virus causes recurrent outbreaks of painful genital or oral lesions and in some circumstances can be lethal. But treatment is currently limited to antivirals, which are only 50% effective at reducing transmission. New treatments are desperately needed — here are four of the most promising pipeline strategies.
As antibiotic resistance continues to threaten the treatment of various infections, researchers are looking for new ways to supplement and in some cases replace failing antimicrobial drugs.
Less than a decade ago, work on T-cell therapies by a handful of researchers was snubbed by their peers but now the field has exploded, money has poured in and there is a race on to see who can bring the technology to patients the quickest.
Pharmacists are taking on roles in vanguard projects, working in both hospital and community settings as part of multidisciplinary teams that are developing new models of care.
Current treatments for anxiety disorders are not effective for all patients and are associated with significant side effects but several drugs in development have novel mechanisms of action and are showing promise.