2017 end of year review concept

2017: Pharmacy's roller-coaster yearSubscription

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It has been an unsettling 12 months for pharmacy and as 2017 draws to a close there are still a number of unresolved issues hanging over the New Year.

Artificial intelligence (AI) brain

Artificial Intelligence: will it change the way drugs are discovered?Subscription

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The pharmaceutical industry is beginning to invest in artificial intelligence (AI), with many large pharmaceutical companies partnering with AI start-ups in 2017 in order to develop better diagnostics or biomarkers, to identify drug targets and to design new drugs. But when will the first AI-designed drugs reach the market and will AI permanently change the pharmaceutical industry and the way drugs are discovered?

  • Four nations flags (England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland) merging into the Union Jack

    Diverging community pharmacy practice across the four UK nationsSubscription

    Responsibility for the health service in England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland has been devolved for almost two decades. With community pharmacy practice diverging across the UK, there is an opportunity for each of the four countries to compare, contrast and learn from each other. However, differences across the countries also represent the individual priorities and people in the four nations, and highlight the localised progress that has been made possible by devolution.

  • Opioid addiction concept

    A crisis hidden in plain sight? Prescription opioid misuse in the UKSubscription

    The United States is in the grip of an opioid misuse epidemic, with 142 opioid-related deaths every day. Could prescription painkiller misuse reach crisis levels in the UK too?

  • Mental health communication concept

    The crucial role of pharmacists in mental health Subscription

    Pharmacists’ role in mental health is wide ranging and spans different sectors and settings. However, pharmacists often lack confidence in this area. More hands-on experience early in a pharmacist’s training could help build confidence and raise awareness of the specialty as a possible career path.

  • Illustration showing research on smart insulin

    Towards a smarter insulinSubscription

    Scientists want to make a type of insulin that would need to be injected only once a day and would become active only in the presence of high glucose concentrations, freeing patients with type 1 diabetes from counting carbohydrates and injecting insulin several times a day.

  • Acne scars on back

    Innovation in acne treatment is long overdue but the treatment pipeline looks promisingSubscription

    Current treatments for acne are effective but regimens are complex and side effects are common. Better understanding of the pathology of acne is leading to identification of new, safer, treatment targets, and dermatologists and researchers in the field are excited about the pipeline.

  • View of the European Medicines Agency headquarters in Canary Wharf, London

    Relocation of the EMA: implications for medicines regulationSubscription

    On 20 November, the General Affairs Council of the European Union will officially announce the new location of the European Medicines Agency (EMA).

  • Illustration of a variety of glucose metering tests

    Non-invasive glucose monitoring for diabetes: five strategies under developmentSubscription

    People with diabetes must regularly check their blood glucose levels to know how much medication to use, or to keep track of fluctuating levels. This monitoring is generally done at home using a finger prick blood test. Although accurate, this test can be messy and inconvenient, and there are concerns that many patients are not testing themselves as frequently as they should. A simple, pain-free, non-invasive method would mark a major improvement in diabetes care. Various companies ...

  • Research on antimicrobial resistance

    AMR and diagnostics: pointing the way to better infection controlSubscription

    Antimicrobial resistance — the ability of previously sensitive microorganisms to resist the effects of an antimicrobial agent — is a growing problem. The World Health Organization has warned that we could be moving into a post-antibiotic era where even minor injuries could lead to life-threatening infections, consequently putting an end to complex surgery and returning us to an era where childbirth is high-risk.

  • Parkinson's disease concept illustration

    Back to basics: striving to stall Parkinson’s disease progressionSubscription

    First described 200 years ago, Parkinson’s disease remains without a cure. After many failed clinical trials, researchers are getting back to basics to try to gain a better understanding of the challenges, and a new generation of treatment ideas are now in clinical trials, some of which aim to stall progression of the disease.

  • Images showing forms of drug delivery: nanoparticles, microchip technology, micro needle patcher and ultrasound-guided delivery

    Making drugs work better: four new drug delivery methodsSubscription

    New drug delivery methods have started to emerge that aim to improve efficacy, cost-effectiveness and adherence as well as reduce side effects.

  • Birdseye view of two people in a meeting

    Peer discussion to become pharmacy's proof of professionalismSubscription

    This is the first in a series of in-depth articles The Salvadore 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 ...

  • Digitalised illustration of DNA in pill representing personalised medicine

    Genomic medicine is going mainstream and pharmacists need to be prepared Subscription

    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.

  • Close up of feet walking on beach

    A strong base: the importance of foot health

    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.

  • Drone gets ready for takeoff

    Fledgling drone technology bringing medicines to remote regionsSubscription

    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.

  • Man filling out prescription

    Prescription charges backfire on UK health and wealth

    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.

  • Illustration of hands cradling an elderly woman

    Medicines optimisation in dementia: the role of the community pharmacySubscription

    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.

  • Andrew Godfrey running

    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.

  • Close up of boy buying prescription drugs off street

    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.

  • Illustration of a heart with signals of hypertension

    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.

  • Hand holding vaccine bottle with rhinovirus vaccine (RV14)

    Rhinovirus vaccine development is about more than fighting coldsSubscription

    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.

  • Busy hospital ward

    Sustainability and transformation plans: is pharmacy's voice being heard?Subscription

    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.

  • Blank or white medicine blister pack

    Design for dispensing: how far can we go to make packaging safer?Subscription

    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.

  • Illustration of the blood brain barrier

    A barrier to progress: getting drugs to the brainSubscription

    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.

  • Blister packs of real and fake viagra

    Falsified Medicines Directive: opportunity or obstacle?Subscription

    [8] 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.

  • Big data concept

    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.

  • Collage of smart inhaler with patient, doctor and mobile devices

    Smart inhalers: will they help to improve asthma care?Subscription

    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.

  • GP out of hours service sign

    New urgent drug supply scheme adds a layer of difficultySubscription

    The new urgent medicines supply service takes the load off out-of-hours GP services, but adds bureaucracy for patients and pharmacists.

  • Illustration of network of pipes

    Understanding irritable bowel syndrome: bugs, brains and leaky barriersSubscription

    Research indicates that there are multiple causes for the symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome, and that most of them may involve the microbiome.

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