The Contribution to Making Britain a Safer Place to Take Medicines

The Contribution of Pharmacy to making Britain a Safer Place to Take Medicines

1. Introduction
The Royal Pharmaceutical Society of great Britain (RPSgB) is the professional and regulatory body for pharmacists in England, Scotland and Wales. Hemant Patel, a former President of the RPSgB, set out an ambition to establish Britain as the safest place in the world to receive medicines (Royal Pharmaceutical Society 2007). This report, commissioned by the RPSgB, is intended to be a step towards fulfilling this vision. It examines the current state of knowledge about medication safety in the UK and considers the role of the RPSgB, the future professional body for pharmacy (following the RPSgB’s demerger into separate regulatory and professional bodies in 20101) and of pharmacists working across great Britain in improving medicines safety. The new professional body will play a key role in strengthening the voice of pharmacy on all issues affecting the safe and effective use of medicines (Transitional Committee 2008).

There is now a considerable opportunity for pharmacy to make a difference to medicines safety, as highlighted in the recent pharmacy White Paper Pharmacy in England (Department of Health 2008).

2. Scope
Whilst safety and quality in healthcare are clearly related, the focus of this paper is on the medication safety agenda.  We have not attempted to cover the whole field of the impact of medicines on health. For example drug discovery, development and safety testing by the pharmaceutical industry are encapsulated in the drug licensing process, and so this area is not covered in the paper. Similarly drug marketing and promotion is not covered since little work has been done on this area related to patient safety. Furthermore, the systems for the prescribing, supply and administration of medicines differ worldwide and results from one country cannot necessarily be extrapolated to others. We therefore focus only on patients receiving medicines in great Britain.

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