- Open Access
The future of medicines use and access research: using the Journal of Pharmaceutical Policy and Practice as a platform for change
Journal of Pharmaceutical Policy and Practice volume 7, Article number: 8 (2014)
Scientific journals are most often used to disseminate the end products of research, but also have an important role as instruments of change. One year after the launch of the Journal of Pharmaceutical Policy and Practice, the focus of articles published has been on pharmaceutical health systems research, including contemporary issues related to medicines management, socio-behavioral aspects of pharmacy and macro pharmaceutical issues. Our most cited articles ranged from those on generic medicines in Jordan , antibiotics sensitivity, usage and access in India and Namibia [2, 3], to a review of national medicines policies around the globe . At this point the Journal has successfully provided a forum to publish within its specified themes. However, given the technological and social changes in health, medicines and public policy, we are keen to promote the Journal of Pharmaceutical Policy and Practice as a platform for change, in order to advance specific agendas. We would argue that this change agenda is underpinned by the following issues:
Global demographic change: growing health disparities
Global demographic change encompasses far more than declining fertility and an aging population. Social and human capital are far more mobile than they once were. Immigration has resulted in multicultural populations in most developed countries . For example, in United States alone, 321 different languages are spoken. By 2050, what are currently regarded as racial and ethnic minorities will constitute 50% of the total population of the US . Health disparities among these populations are of particular concern . What is of most interest to readers of this journal is how these demographic changes will impact on medicines use, health, disease and public policy. A proactive research agenda focusing on these issues is required.
Changes in healthcare and community pharmacy practice
Worldwide, a community pharmacy is generally the most common point at which the public accesses medicines, as well as health advice. However, in many countries, community pharmacy is seen as having interests that are oppositional to public health and motivated purely by profit. As a result, community pharmacy as a sector is often marginalised from the health and social care system. It is seen as a rather insular profession, busy with its own concerns, and not engaged with debates and decisions in the wider world of health policy . Medicines use issues at the points of transition between ambulatory and institutional healthcare are also fertile areas for investigation and innovation.
It has been argued that pharmacy practice research has a lower profile than research undertaken by other healthcare professionals . This is especially surprising at a time when some governments are advocating greater integration of pharmacy into mainstream healthcare and also facing increasing demands for access to expensive medicines . Although pharmacy practice research has recently attracted large grants, and some robust evidence is emerging, there remains a paucity of knowledge on the quality of services delivered by pharmacists and a lack of evidence in terms of patient outcomes and value for money. Indeed, what evidence does exist is dominated by data from developed country settings .
Successful implementation of pharmacy practice research cannot be achieved simply by information dissemination, training, regulation and compliance with guidelines. Just because a programme or service has been shown to demonstrate positive outcomes for patients does not mean that it will be easily implemented in practice [12, 13]. For example, a recent study  of the community pharmacy Medicine Use Review (MUR) services in England showed that the success of this new patient–pharmacist model of interaction was dependent on patients’ understanding of the pharmacists’ role, the perceived hierarchy and position held by general practitioners, and experience of what actually occurs during the MUR interaction . We need to challenge our practices and beliefs if things are to change and the future research agenda on pharmacy service models has to focus on these issues . In addition, pharmacy practice research has to be seen as linked to overall pharmaceutical policy, including pharmaceutical pricing and reimbursement strategies and demand-side measures to, for instance, enhance generic uptake and/or a more rational use of medicines.
Technology is rapidly changing
There is an increasing use of technology in the delivery and management of healthcare. There is use of automation and robotics at hospital and community pharmacies, electronic prescribing, e- communication, use of robotics, pharmacists’ access to integrated patient records- all are changing at a very fast pace and are directly related to how patients and consumers are accessing and using medicines . Social media is on the rise and there is no reason to suggest that this will be any less the case for those engaged with the pharmacy sector
What could be on the new research horizon?
In the context of the trends outlined here, what will the healthcare sector look like in 20–30 years? What might medicines use and access look like? It is likely there will be many changes and the way we think, act and formulate research questions will be different. Might many of the current questions we are asking be irrelevant? Might new professional alliances be formed that transform the effectiveness of how the public is using medicines? To enable such a shift, there will be a need for a significant rethink of the models of care through which medicines are delivered. New approaches to delivering patient services will emerge .
Researchers can no longer expect to secure funding for projects solely focused on pharmacy practice . In order to maximize the impact of their work pharmacy practice researchers will need to include physicians and nurses at the very least and preferably other health professionals . Moreover, pharmacy practice research teams have to involve researchers with different academic backgrounds such as sociologists, economists, and epidemiologists in-order to have their research more widely recognized and accepted. The healthcare system of the future demands a connected, transdisciplinary and collaborative approach, and the same applies to pharmaceutical policy and practice research. The Journal of Pharmaceutical Policy and Practice stands ready to not only publish that research, but to promote that agenda, and to ask those tough and relevant questions.
El-Dahiyat F, Kayyali R: Evaluating patients’ perceptions regarding generic medicines in Jordan. J Pharm Policy Pract. 2013, 6: 3- http://www.joppp.org/content/6/1/3 .
Kotwani A, Holloway K: Access to antibiotics in New Delhi, India: implications for antibiotic policy. J Pharm Policy Pract. 2013, 6: 6- http://www.joppp.org/content/pdf/2052-3211-6-6.pdf .
Mengistu A, Gaeseb J, Uaaka G, Ndjavera C, Kambyambya K, Indongo L, Kalemeera F, Ntege C, Mabirizi D, Joshi MP, Sagwa E: Antimicrobial sensitivity patterns of cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) isolates in Namibia: implications for empirical antibiotic treatment of meningitis. J Pharm Policy Pract. 2013, 6: 4- http://www.joppp.org/content/pdf/2052-3211-6-4.pdf .
Hoebert JM, van Dijk L, Mantel-Teeuwisse AK, Hubert GM, Leufkens HGM, Laing RO: National medicines policies – a review of the evolution and development processes. J Pharm Policy Pract. 2013, 6: 5- http://www.joppp.org/content/pdf/2052-3211-6-5.pdf .
Kymlicka W: The Current State Of Multiculturalism In Canada And Research Themes On Canadian Multiculturalism 2008–2010. 2010, http://www.cic.gc.ca/english/pdf/pub/multi-state.pdf .
U.S. Census Bureau: Population Projections, U.S. Interim Projections by Age, Sex, Race, and Hispanic Origin:. 2000, http://www.census.gov/ipc/www/usinterimproj/ , –2050.
Ling AM, Panno NJ, Shader ME, Sobinsky RM, Whitehead HN, Hale KM: The Evolving Scope of Pharmacy Practice: Perspectives from Future Pharmacists. http://www.pharmacy.ohio-state.edu/forms/outreach/intro-to-pharmacy/Evolving_Scope_of_Pharmacy_Practice.pdf .
Smith J, Picton C, Dayan M: Now Or Never: Shaping Pharmacy For The Future. The Report Of The Commission On Future Models Of Care Delivered Through Pharmacy. 2013, London, United Kingdom: Royal Pharmaceutical Society of Great Britain
Bakker A: Pharmacy-practice research: A challenge for academia and practicing pharmacists. Pharm Acta Helv. 1996, 71: 373-379.
Ambler S, Sheldrake L: Pharmacy practice research: challenges and opportunities. Prim Health Care Res Dev. 2009, 10 (1): 4-6.
Giberson S, Yoder S, Lee MP: Improving Patient and Health System Outcomes through Advanced Pharmacy Practice. A Report to the U.S. Surgeon General. 2011, Office of the Chief Pharmacist. U.S. Public Health Service, http://www.accp.com/docs/positions/misc/improving_patient_and_health_system_outcomes.pdf .
Schroeder JA: Integrating Implementation Science, Practice And Policy. 2011, National Implementation Research Network, http://www.rosalynncarter.org/UserFiles/ImplementationScience.pdf .
Fixsen DL, Naoom SF, Blase KA, Friedman RM, Wallace F: Implementation Research: A Synthesis of the Literature. 2005, National Implementation Research Network, http://ctndisseminationlibrary.org/PDF/nirnmonograph.pdf .
Latif A, Boardman HF, Pollock K: Understanding the patient perspective of the English community pharmacy Medicines Use Review (MUR). Res Social Adm Pharm. 2013, 9: 949-957.
Roberts A: Research on implementation of collaborative services-the Australian experience. 2013, Berlin, Germany: 8thPharmaceutical Care Network Europe (PCNE) Working Conference
Almarsdottir AB, Kaae S, Traulsen JM: Opportunities and challenges in social pharmacy and pharmacy practice research. Res Social Adm Pharm. 2014, 10: 252-255.
Rights and permissions
This article is published under license to BioMed Central Ltd. This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0), which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly credited. The Creative Commons Public Domain Dedication waiver (http://creativecommons.org/publicdomain/zero/1.0/) applies to the data made available in this article, unless otherwise stated.
About this article
Cite this article
Babar, ZUD., Gray, A., Kiani, A. et al. The future of medicines use and access research: using the Journal of Pharmaceutical Policy and Practice as a platform for change. J of Pharm Policy and Pract 7, 8 (2014). https://doi.org/10.1186/2052-3211-7-8