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Blog: Celebrating International Clinical Trials Day

We are delighted to celebrate International Clinical Trials Day (ICTD) today and to commemorate the day James Lind started his famous clinical trial on scurvy, back in 1747. By funding innovative research, Pharmacy Research UK is able to support researchers who continue to walk along the same path as James Lind. They are leaders of the future and provide evidence on the benefit of pharmacy to patients and the public. Today we celebrate and discuss the benefits that involvement and engagement in research can bring.

When it comes to clinical research and clinical trials, pharmacists and other pharmacy professionals undertake a variety of roles in addition to leading research. Whether working in a commercial or non-commercial environment, the contribution of pharmacists to patient safety in research is invaluable.

Kam Ajimal is a clinical trials pharmacist from the Heart of England NHS Foundation Trust. She conducted research through its Medical, Innovation, Research Development Unit (MIDRU). Below, Kam shares her experience of being in the role and how a career in pharmacy can go a long way:

‘Being based in trials means I’m involved in a portfolio of over 200 clinical trials. I am primarily involved in cancer trials, but often deal with non-cancer trials too. I work in a wonderful team including a principal pharmacist, a non-cancer lead trials pharmacist, myself (a cancer lead trials pharmacist) and two band seven cancer pharmacists (who rotate through clinical trials and cancer services as a split post). The team also includes a chief pharmacy technician and a mixture of pharmacy technicians and assistants.

My first taste of trials was when I rotated as a band six pharmacist through cancer services – and like the majority of band sixes – trials scared the wits out of me, but as time passed and I started to understand trials a little more, it became something I enjoyed and was happy to tackle.

When I became a band seven, I was given the opportunity to rotate into clinical trials – which opened up a whole new world to pharmacy.  There was a completely different side – now all those three hour lectures on clinical trials at Uni were really starting to come in handy! It being a new learning curve was definitely an understatement but it was something I relished.

Trials are one of the few areas in pharmacy that allows a pharmacist to be truly holistic in their approach – looking at risk assessing all aspects of the trial that have to do with an Investigational Medicinal Product (IMP). We are in a prime position to ensure the maximum cost savings for the directorates that run these trials – for example, we have worked out that we could potentially save a directorate up to £15,000 just for one trial.

Here in MIDRU pharmacy, we (a small yet elite team!) work extremely closely – not just with each other – but with the entire research team. This is something that you don’t really get to appreciate in a normal ward based role. In my experience, the thing I enjoy most about working here is the work we do together and the fun we have as a whole team, working together MIDRU.

Over the years, I have learnt that trials aren’t something to be afraid of, but something that is a real asset to the NHS and is a constantly growing area – in this sector, pharmacists have an unfeigned and esteemed voice that can make a quantifiable impact to the service.’

Find out more about clinical trials and international clinical trials day by following #ICTD2016 on social media.

Dr Rachel Joynes, Head of Research and Evaluation, Royal Pharmaceutical Society. See more about what the RPS is doing to support research here: www.rpharms.com

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