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50 glorious issues


A trip down memory lane: now in its tenth year of
publication we look back at the achievements of HPE with the launch of its 50th issue

Christine Clark
BSc MSc PhD FRPharmS FCPP(Hon)


This is the fiftieth issue of HPE and the journal is now in its tenth year of publication. By anybody’s reckoning this is a good time to take stock of what has been achieved.

When the journal was launched in 2001 it went under the title of Hospital Prescriber Europe. After three issues it was changed to Hospital Pharmacy Europe as it became clear that hospital pharmacists represented a large and influential group that had specific interests and often highly-developed expertise. In short they were just the kind of group that merited a journal to serve their needs.

Hospital pharmacists deal with a wide body of knowledge from a specific perspective. Over the past 10 years this has grown and developed; it has also absorbed some completely new topics. It is worth highlighting some of the key topics – all of which have been reported and discussed in HPE – to demonstrate the scale of developments.

Patient safety has become a buzz-word in the health care professions in general but for pharmacists the special dimensions of medicines’ safety have gained a particularly prominent place in our thinking. Many pharmacists would argue that patient safety has become embedded in all medicines-related activities. The shift in emphasis from ‘medication errors’ to patient safety reflects the maturation of thinking over this time.

Pharmaceutical care has grown across Europe. Increasingly pharmacists are working as active members of health care teams and many have become recognised as specialists in their own right. In UK the birth of the “prescribing pharmacist” has been a logical development of this trend.

There have been huge developments in IT systems embracing electronic prescribing, decision support systems, electronic administration records and so-called “smart pumps” for drug administration. In some cases these have been linked to automated dispensing and distribution systems. We have also witnessed the exploration of closed-loop systems that exploit the benefits of IT to link patients, medicines and prescriptions safely and accurately. People have begun to talk about “pharmacies without people” underlining the fact that IT and automation has supported the development of pharmaceutical care by liberating time to spend with patients.

There have been increases in the use of cytotoxic agents, new ways of handling them, including automated preparation, and growing awareness of the problem of environmental contamination.

Many new medicines have been introduced including numerous monoclonal antibodies. These have brought us a new vocabulary as we have learned about biologics and biosimilars. We have also learned that the testing of these new products in humans can be particularly hazardous.

The relationship between the pharmaceutical industry and hospital pharmacists has also developed as the value of their expertise and advice in relation to product development and marketing has been increasingly recognised.

These are only some of the highlights but they serve to illustrate the changes that have occurred. Hospital pharmacists in Europe have achieved much over the past ten years and this has been reflected in the pages of the journal. Undoubtedly there have been disappointments and there are still some old problems to overcome and some new challenges to tackle

HPE will continue to be a partner in process of building professional links-providing hospital pharmacists with a platform for communication about their work and their interests both through the paper journal and our new website. I look forward with some excitement to seeing what the next 50 issues will bring.

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