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Published on 21 September 2009

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A brighter future for clinical pharmacy


At this year’s symposium of the European Society of Clinical Pharmacy (ESCP) there will be a strong focus on multidisciplinary care, patient-oriented care and the use of technology in patient care

Christine Clark
BSc MSc PhD FRPharmS

The autumn symposium of the European Society of Clinical Pharmacy (ESCP) is one of the highlights of the clinical pharmacy year. It is strongly focused on clinical and therapeutic issues and gives participants the opportunity to spend a few days exchanging ideas on how to make medicines more effectively. Increasingly, this is the natural place for many hospital pharmacists.

Over the past 20 years or so the practice of pharmacy has shifted from being entirely based on preparation and supply of
medicines to a role that emphasises safe and effective use. In some countries, for example the United Kingdom, there
was a phase when pharmacists were also seen as the people to control drug costs. This can all too easily lead to a dead
end but when it develops into a mechanism for the implementation of cost-effective treatment (as opposed to cheap treatment) then it offers a responsible and socially useful way to deliver pharmacotherapy.

The forthcoming symposium promises to explore a number of aspects of medicines’ use through plenary sessions and
round table discussions. Key themes are multidisciplinary care, patient-oriented care and the use of technology in patient
care. These are all going to be critical aspects of the ongoing development of clinical pharmacy services. It is widely-recognised that well-organised multidisciplinary working delivers high quality care. At this symposium speakers from several countries will describe their experiences of multidisciplinary care in a range of therapeutic areas. A key aspect of patientoriented pharmacy is communication and the organisers of this symposium have wisely chosen to devote an entire plenary session to this topic. The use of technology in numerous guises will undoubtedly support the further development of pharmacy services. Electronic prescribing and the integration of medical records will be essential underpinnings.

One excellent feature of the ESCP programme in recent years has been the pharmacotherapy updates. These have usually involved an expert in the therapeutic area giving a brief but well-informed overview and update of the topic in question. Real experts, of course, always put things into perspective and can make complex information sound straightforward – and this is just what speakers have done over the past few years. This year’s update topics are anticoagulation and biosimilars – both areas where things have moved quickly in the past few years. One of the most exciting developments of recent years is the introduction of oral Factor Xa inhibitors – a development that could change the whole practice of anticoagulation over the next decade. They hold out the possibility that future generations of prescribers might not have to get to grips with the intricacies of warfarin prescribing and monitoring and future generations of patients may be spared some of the attendant risks. Biosimilars also offer enormous possibilities and an update on the complexities of this topic will be welcome to many symposium participants.

The organisers of the symposium have entitled the meeting, “30 Years of Clinical Pharmacy: a bright future ahead”. In many ways the meeting programme is itself a clear testament to that bright future – and we look forward to it.


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