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Responsible medicines use campaign

The World Health Organization estimates that approximately 50% of people across the globe fail to take their medicines correctly and, according to a study by the IMS Institute for Healthcare Informatics, it is estimated that US$500bn could be saved in healthcare services through more responsible use of medicines, which represents approximately 8% of the world’s healthcare expenditure per year.

We would like to share with you the ‘Medicines use – we are all responsible’ campaign, winner of the International Pharmaceutical Federation (FIP) 2016 Health Promotion Campaign Award. The campaign was launched by the Portuguese Pharmaceutical Society (PPS) in September 2014. It adopted the FIP responsible use of medicines concept, which looks at improving access, appropriate selection and use of medicines.

The initiative’s main goal is to inform, promote best practices and raise awareness among the general population, healthcare professionals, and policymakers about responsible use of medicines.

The campaign had a strong presence on primetime television (using the campaign’s promotional video), radio, and national and digital press (comprising more than 90 articles published). Following the launch period, the PPS kept on developing the campaign materials through its own website ( and on social media (namely Facebook and YouTube) where members of the public, healthcare professionals and policymakers were invited to join the campaign. These communication channels were constantly updated with the purpose of raising awareness and increasing general knowledge on the topic. Brochures were also handed out to patients during their visits to over 2,900 pharmacies.

Several contributions from citizens, healthcare professionals and policymakers were submitted to the website, including recorded testimonials, pictures, opinion statements and support documents. Throughout the campaign, actions were taken to clarify common doubts and concerns from the population, debunking myths and breaking down misconceptions on medicines use, such as the ‘Ten steps for the safe use of medicines’ poster, designed to illustrate what individuals need to do to make a better and safer use of medicines.

The campaign was also incorporated in the Healthy Generation project, which aims to bring health promotion to schools (it educates around 13,000 students per year).

Several multidisciplinary debate sessions were organised, where renowned healthcare professionals participated together with policymakers, representatives from patients and consumer associations and citizens. Each session had over 1,000 attendees. The PPS subsequently developed a document that comprises 30 recommendations for the responsible use of medicines. These recommendations take on a positive and constructive stand, envisaging all phases of a medicine’s life cycle, and were presented to the Portuguese government and relevant institutions.

The clinical and economical outcomes are not measurable in the short-term. However, owing to the interventions led by this campaign, we believe a positive impact has been made in the population’s awareness and habits regarding the use of medicines. Some of the recommendations are already being followed up.

Ema Paulino

President of south and autonomous regions branch

Nuno Cardoso

Technical secretary of south and autonomous regions branch

Portuguese Pharmaceutical Society

Citation: The Pharmaceutical Journal DOI: 10.1211/PJ.2016.20201774

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