Medicine and the practice of medicine are inextricably connected. Today, the NHS, academic medicine and the pharmaceutical industry have a symbiotic relationship, each depending on the other for success. Enormous benefits have been derived from this relationship - clinically, scientifically and economically. However, in recent years the strength and integrity of these relationships have been questioned by diverse critics - in the medical profession, politics and the media.
To redress this, and to further support a dynamic and productive relationship between doctors and the pharmaceutical industry, the Royal College of Physicians convened a working party to examine in some detail the political, economic, commercial organisational, professional and public barriers to creating an ideal relationship - the overwhelming principle being the improvement of patient care.
The report, published in 2009, is in five main sections: patient care, professional education, research for health, getting the culture right and future relationships. It contains 41 recommendations covering each of these aspects. Key recommendations include:
- the development of a comprehensive medicines information strategy for patients, plus a standard setting and implementation strategy for this
- patient-friendly packaging of medicines
- an expansion in the role of pharmacists in the delivery of medicines' information
- medical school responsibility for the quality of prescribing among newly qualified doctors
- the promotion of standards for prescribing at postgraduate level
- a method for gradually ending the support of the pharmaceutical industry in the education of doctors-in-training
- stronger leadership for the promotion of research collaborations to enhance good quality care
- innovation and continuous learning throughout the NHS
This report, which is available to download as a pdf, is essential reading for anyone with an interest in securing better medicines for patients. It sets out the changes needed to secure the relationships and improve the working methods that will enable this to become a reality.