Patients depend on medicines to help maintain health, prevent illness, manage chronic conditions and treat disease. Medicines are such an important part of what the NHS does to help patients and are therefore a very precious resource.
Over the years, much work has been done to ensure medicines use is evidence based and cost effective. To date, there has been a focus on prescribing data (drug cost and volume) relating to drug choice and prescribing. However, relatively little work has been done outside of the academic setting on how well patients are supported to get the best from their medicines.
Evidence, both national and international, suggests that medicines use is “sub optimal”. That is why we supported and encouraged the development of principles to support medicines optimisation. Led by the Royal Pharmaceutical Society, but developed in collaboration with patients, the medical and nursing professions and the pharmaceutical industry, the principles offer a step change in the way that we think about medicines use in the NHS.
Medicines optimisation is about ensuring that the right patients get the right choice of medicine, at the right time. By focusing on patients and their experiences, the goal is to help patients to: improve their outcomes; take their medicines correctly; avoid taking unnecessary medicines; reduce wastage of medicines; and improve medicines safety. Ultimately medicines optimisation can help encourage patients to take ownership of their treatment.
NHS England is working with patients, the pharmaceutical industry, royal colleges and others to encourage a range of improvements aimed at ensuring that patients get the support they need to get the most from their medicines.