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Ask About Medicines Week Concept Launch

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The Ask About Medicines Week concept was launched on October 22nd at Westminster by Dr Howard Stoate MP, Chair of the All-Party Parliamentary Pharmacy Group. Dr Stoate hosted the meeting and opened proceedings before handing over to Ms Joanne Shaw of the Medicines Partnership. Ms Shaw explained the concept of Ask About Medicines Week (AAMW) and the role of the Medicines Partnership in promoting the initiative before introducing the speakers.
Mr Steve Hawley, a trustee of the Long-Term Medical Conditions Alliance, presented the patients' perspective. Mr Hawley described his personal journey of discovery from being a passive user of medicines to becoming an active participant in the decision making process about his treatment.
Ensuring the AAMW concept is a success depends on effective and innovative methods of communication according to Julie Flexen of Munro and Forster Communications. Previous work has shown that the benefits of health information campaigns are not restricted to the patient. Those providing health education have gained a great deal from the increased interaction with patients.
Professor Trevor Jones, Director General of the Association of the British Pharmaceutical Industry (ABPI) explained that the huge cost of developing new drugs means that it is increasingly important to use medicines wisely. The pharmaceutical industry has a vested interest in providing patients with high quality information about their medicines. Many companies set up patient help lines or supply detailed information leaflets to help patients understand their condition and how the get best out of the medicines used to treat their condition. The development of antibiotic resistant superbugs is a relevant example at this time of the year. Encouraging patients to ask questions about their medicines and how to take them is an important step in educating the public.
Finally, David Dickinson, joint chair of the PECMI working group, described the successful campaigns carried out in Australia and the USA. Australia's "National Medicines Week" was so successful that a permanent National Medicines Helpline has been established. Both Geraldine Moses, the mastermind of the Australian campaign and N Lee Rucker of the National Council for Patient Information and Education in the USA have agreed to be observers of the AAMW initiative. They will provide invaluable help and advice to the UK project. Mr Dickinson stressed that the AAMW would be different to these overseas initiatives in one important respect: AAMW will be more strongly driven by patients' needs. It will give medicine users a chance to tell their story and ask their questions, in their own words, to get a respectful hearing and a proper answer.


Related Documents
Biographies of speakers at the Ask About Medicines Week concept launch (in pdf format)
Briefing document for the Ask About Medicines Week initiative (in pdf format)