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The Future of Safe Prescribing 

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Published: 14 Aug 2019
Category: Meetings update
By David Williams

A joint one-day conference between the British Pharmacological Society and the Royal College of Physicians Ireland was held in Dublin on 29 March. This conference was designed to address topics directly relevant to safe prescribing now and in the future. It was attended by a wide range of independent prescribers from all backgrounds including medical, pharmacy and nursing. The first part of the meeting focused on the current ‘state of the art’ in relation to prescribing. Professor Simon Maxwell provided an overview of the Prescribing Safely Assessment (PSA) and its implementation in UK medical schools. Professor Patrick Murray then described the adoption of the PSA byIrish medical schools and the studies highlighting the ‘unpreparedness’ of Irish graduates for prescribing. Professor Emma Baker focused on the challenge of polypharmacy and the role that clinical pharmacologists could play in reducing inappropriate prescribing. Dr Mary Tully outlined the improved access to medicines provided by non-medical prescribers.

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Given the date (29 March 2019, the original date set for Brexit), Dr Patricia McGettigan provided the options for medicines regulation in Europe following a ‘hard’ or ‘soft’ Brexit. A number of changes in medicines regulation in light of Brexit have already been implemented and were described in detail. The opportunity to innovate and improve prescribing safety with electronic prescribing was outlined by Professor Jamie Coleman who provided a number of  examples of how electronic prescribing can improve prescribing practice. Professor Michael Barry then outlined the National Medicines’ management programme and the challenges involved in implementing cost-effective prescribing in the Irish healthcare sector. Examples of significant cost savings to the Irish healthcare system were provided despite the fact that the rate of generic prescribing is relatively low in Ireland.

Professor Marion Bennie commenced the afternoon session with an overview of the opportunity provided by the interrogation of large prescribing datasets to improve prescribing. This was complemented by a discussion by Dr Richard Fitzgerald of the challenges and opportunities provided by precision medicine and the role of Health Technology Assessment (HTA) in balancing innovation and affordability in the era of precision medicines was discussed by Dr Mairin Ryan of the Irish Health Information and Quality Authority. 

Finally,the W.D.M. Paton Memorial Lecture was delivered by Professor Richard Green who provided an overview of the history of modern therapeutics as seen through UK pharmaceutical advertising. A poster session on the theme of safe prescribing was held during the meeting. The winner of the best poster was √Čilidh Rogers, Health Service Executive Medicines Management Programme, Ireland (see below).  

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Published: 14 Aug 2019
Category: Meetings update
By David Williams

About the author

David Williams 

David is Professor of Stroke Medicine and Consultant Stroke Physician at the Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland/Beaumont hospital. His research interests include stroke medicine, platelet function, hypertension and prescribing. David is managing editor of the European journal of Clinical Pharmacology and is the Irish National Speciality Director of training for Clinical Pharmacology and Therapeutics.

David is a fellow of the Royal Colleges of Physicians of Ireland and Edinburgh, the British Pharmacological Society and the British and Irish Hypertension Society. He has served as Clinical Vice President of the British Pharmacological Society between 2007-10 and in 2014 he was awarded the Society’s GSK prize for his contribution to research in clinical pharmacology. 

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