$6.7m funding boost to reduce medication harm

15 June 2021
Research to support patients with the safe use of medicines
University of Sydney pharmacy researchers have received over $6.5 million in federal government funding to help osteoporosis sufferers and people at risk of chronic kidney disease, and to develop a system to help pharmacists and GPs work better together.

Sydney researchers have received over $6.5 million from the Medical Research Future Fund (MRFF) to support patients with the safe use of medicines.

The University of Sydney-led research initiatives have received over $6.5 million in federal government funding and will help osteoporosis sufferers, people at risk of chronic kidney disease, and a system to help pharmacists and GPs work better together.

The Minister for Health and Aged Care, the Hon Greg Hunt MP, announced today the Australian Government is investing $11.7 million in medical research for pharmacists to support patients with the safe use of medicines. The 2020 Quality, Safety and Effectiveness of Medicine Use and Medicine Intervention by Pharmacists grant recipients tackle some of the common prescription drug issues for at-risk groups.

Professor Robyn Ward, Pro Vice-Chancellor and Executive Dean of the Faculty of Medicine and Health, congratulated the grant recipients.

“Three out of five of the grants awarded were for University of Sydney-led projects – this is a great outcome which reflects the high-calibre research taking place within our Faculty.

“Our researchers are making an important contribution to the health and wellbeing of Australians by working with the community on initiatives to reduce preventable medicine-related harm,” she said. 

Associate Professor Rebekah Moles will trial a referral pathway, led by pharmacists, which reviews the medications of consumers with osteoporosis who have sustained a fracture. Her intervention aims to reduce the use of medicines which lead to falls, such as those causing sedation, while improving the use of anti-osteoporosis medicines that improve bone strength. 

Professor Timothy Chen is renowned for his research into reducing medication related harm. His seminal work in medication review led to the establishment of the Commonwealth funded Home Medicines Review (HMR) programme twenty years ago. This MRFF project will build on key elements of the HMR programme to enhance the quality use of medicines in primary care. It will build better systems for pharmacists and medical practitioners to work together for the benefit of patients at high risk of medication misadventure as they transition from hospital to home. An important component will be the establishment of Drugs and Therapeutics Committees within Primary Health Networks and the appointment of medication safety pharmacists to facilitate community-based medication management and the safe and quality use of medicines.

Dr Ron Castelino, a renal pharmacist and senior lecturer in pharmacy, will lead a trial to provide community pharmacists with tools to identify patients at risk of chronic kidney disease. This screening will allow pharmacists to provide quality services regarding use of medicines, identify medications that are toxic to the kidney or potentially inappropriate for kidney function, and recommend ways to optimise use of medicines. 

Professor Andrew McLachlan, Head of School and Dean of the Sydney Pharmacy School said:  

“These three exciting projects, led by researchers in the Sydney Pharmacy School, address critically important research to address the global challenge of medication safety.

“Pharmacy Research leaders have assembled outstanding multidisciplinary teams, including important collaboration with consumers to co-design projects, that will investigate and implement interventions to significantly improve quality use of medicines and reduce the burden of medication related harms.”

The grant program is funded through the Australian Government’s Preventive and Public Health Research Initiative, which forms part of the Medical Research Future Fund.

The initiative supports innovative approaches to public health challenges, particularly treating and managing chronic and complex diseases and improving the use of medicines.

Ivy Shih

Media and Public Relations Adviser (Medicine and Health)

Kobi Print

Media & PR Adviser - Health

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