First journal to address the challenges of access to medicines
Healthcare professionals are adept at sourcing medicines to treat patients; it is a fundamental part of their role. Therefore, it is worrying that data from a recent survey that we carried out at Clinigen showed that over half (58%) of healthcare professionals consider the time spent sourcing unlicensed medicines to be one of the biggest challenges they face.
Challenges with accessing medicines at the point of care
Access to medicines that are either unlicensed or unavailable at the point of care is playing a critical role in ensuring the best possible patient outcomes are achieved. This situation arises when the standard treatment with a licensed medicine fails, innovative medicines are not commercially available locally or there is a medicine shortage or discontinuation.
Getting access to unlicensed medicines at the point of care is complex and demanding and often needed in urgent or critical situations. Knowing what to do and what to consider in these challenging cases is key to finding an appropriate and timely supply.
From the moment that the treating physician prescribes an unlicensed medicine it’s the responsibility of the hospital pharmacist to source the required medicine. This forces the pharmacist to go in search of the medicine in an effective and compliant way, ensuring timely delivery of the treatment for the patient. However getting access to such medicines requires pharmacists to keep a cool head, often in a highly stressful and time pressured environment, and importantly, know where to turn to find an appropriate supply. That is why I am pleased to see that the first ever journal focused on access to medicines at the point of care has been launched. This journal should help equip pharmacists with knowledge and information that will assist them in dealing with situations where access to unlicensed medicines is needed.
An up-to-date resource
MedicineAccess@PointofCare focuses on the challenges associated with accessing unlicensed or locally unavaiblable medicines. This open access, peer reviewed journal, includes reviews, position papers, expert point of view articles, research articles and case studies that give real-life examples of a clinical case and how access to the right treatment was achieved. These insights are also shared through a quarterly newsletter.
The journal highlights the practicalities that pharmacists and physicians should consider when sourcing ethical and regulatory compliant medicines across the broad topic of access to medicines; compassionate use of medicine, counterfeit medicines, responding to patient demand, global access, early access, treatment of rare diseases, and any situation where an unmet clinical need requires treatment which is not, or not yet, licensed or available
Some of the latest articles focus on:
- What’s in a word? Falsified/counterfeit/fake medicines – the definitions debate
- Alternatives when an authorized medicinal product is not available
- Access to generic medicines for hepatitis C in South Africa: a journey of discovery
With patients’ and Key Opinion Leaders becoming more aware of other treatments that are available in different countries or under development, the demand for unlicensed medicines at the point of care is growing. This journal will help healthcare professionals stay up-to-date and well informed to tackle the increasing demand to find ethical ways to access unlicensed medicines.
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