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Individual / Corporate Responsibility

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A lot flashes through my mind on a daily basis. This can actually be quite frustrating as I consider all sorts of, what would appear to be, nonsense. However, a lot of what I think about actually isn’t... Anyway, down to business.
Responsibility is a big issue in pharmacy and the wider healthcare world. It can sometimes be the cause of debates and discussion – “who takes responsibility for this?” It makes me laugh occasionally because I think it’s a bit like saying, “if things go wrong – who gets the blame?” There’s also that saying isn’t there? “With great amounts of responsibility, come great amounts of paperwork”. OK, maybe I made that up and it’s more of an observation but it’s funny though. Well, I think it is!
Luckily as a pre-reg, my responsibilities are vastly limited. So I don’t know how it feels to have true responsibility. This, I am sure, will all change with due time and hopefully I’ll have the massive shock I deserve for being so naive. To be honest though, it’s probably one of the greatest limitations to the pre-registration year. Constrained responsibility, in no way, reflects the true daily practise of a pharmacist. Of course, I am aware of the reasoning behind this. The peppermint water case comes to mind immediately.  Regarding responsibility, I have been impressed with GlaxoSmithKline recently as I am newly aware of the inhaler recycling scheme. Despite it being old news, it’s innovative. I think it’s impressive that GSK are taking this initiative which involves inhalers that aren't manufactured by them. I believe it is schemes like this the professional should be recognising and encouraging.  It is sometimes sad that big pharma gets stereotyped. The complexity of research and development is an area I feel the media and public lack insight. I believe more could be done to raise awareness of the difficulty/complexity in producing medicines, particularly in specific areas like cancer. An example I used in my dissertation was paclitaxel. The synthesis of paclitaxel has also been massively improved due to improvements in biocatalysis. Old synthesis routes included 40+ reaction steps with a yield of less than 2%. (Holton, RA et al. 1994 and Nicoaou, KC. 1994)  New methods developed by Bristol-Myers Squibb and Holton have reduced synthesis to 11 steps. This was changed to plant-cell fermentation which produces paclitaxel from cell cultures in six steps (Rothenberg, G. 2008).  
Although I copied that information from my dissertation, it is a prime example of how drug companies are taking responsibility. Developing new methods of synthesis and refining old ways are only some areas in R+D that companies are working on. It can be easy, even for a fairly recent graduate like me, to forget the complexities of manufacturing a medicine. The wide ranging scientists including chemists, analysts, engineers etc should also be noted and appreciated. Research into these methods therefore takes vast amounts of time and money. 
The question is does the profession/public feel pharmaceutical companies could do more? If so what? I think communication is vital for future progress and all sectors of pharmacy should come together to discuss ideas – especially in key areas like product sustainability and stock shortages. Surely that is the individual responsibility of pharmacists as scientists and health-care professionals, despite their sector of work. Is it time for improved collaboration or are things fine the way they are? 
Anyways, it was a bit wishy-washy that but I’m just throwing some ideas out there. You can see why I started the blog the way I did.
ReferencesHolton, RA. Somoza, C. Kim, HB. Liang, F. Biediger, RG. Boatman, PD. Shindo, M. Smith, CC. Kim, S. Nadizadeh, H. Suzuki, Y. Tao, C. Vu, P. Tang, S. Zhang, P. Murthi, KK. Gentile, LN. Liu, JH. (1994). First total synthesis of taxol. 2. Completion of the C and D rings. J. Am. Chem. Soc. 116, p1597-1599. 
Nicolaou, KC. Yang, Z. Lieu, JJ. Ueno, H. Nanternet, PG. Guy, RK. Claiborne, CF. Renaud, J. Couladouros, EA. Paulvannan, K. Sorensens, EJ. (1994). Total Synthesis of Taxol. Nature. 367, p630.
Rothenberg, G. (2008). Catalysis Concepts and Green Applications. Weinheim: WILEY-VCH. p39-73. 

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