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Create research, don’t just follow it, pharmacists told

By News team

Pharmacists need to be more involved in research, not just follow or critique the studies and clinical guidance written by medical professionals, participants at a Royal Pharmaceutical Society education event were told this week (12 November 2012).

Imploring pharmacists outside academia to participate in research, Rachel Airley, senior lecturer in pharmacology at the University of Huddersfield and member of the RPS Assembly, highlighted a startling difference in the attitudes of doctors and pharmacists: "Medics are involved at all stages – research, leading studies, developing guidelines and putting them into practice." Yet pharmacists seem content simply to assess prescribing and practice guidance, rather than getting involved at the development stage. "It just doesn’t seem to be part of the career pathway of a pharmacist," she said.

"A profession stands by creating knowledge, and this applies to every sector of pharmacy, particularly patient-facing sectors such as community," asserted Dr Airley. Part of the solution was to emphasise the importance of research and evidence collection during the undergraduate MPharm programme, she stated, but pharmacists also needed to assert their right to have input into designing clinical trials and epidemiological studies, and gathering evidence from practice. This work would, in turn, inform new pharmacy services, explained Dr Airley. "There is no reason why community pharmacists can’t deliver biogenomic testing to predict clinical response and allow medicines optimisation," she said, going on to describe how this would boost the valuable public health role already played by pharmacy in early detection of disease.

Dr Airley’s remarks were supported by Graham Sewell, head of Plymouth University’s School of Health Professions, who pointed out that junior doctors participate in research despite working long, unsociable hours and undertaking further education: "I don’t buy the fact that pharmacists are too busy . . . they need to step up to the plate. But academia needs a bigger presence to help develop the culture [of research] and to nurture pharmacists."

Citation: The Pharmaceutical Journal URI: 11111537

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