Clinical pharmacology needs to be revitalised in the UK

EMBARGO: 00:01H (London time) Friday March 31, 2006. In North America the embargo lifts at 18:30H ET Thursday March 30, 2006.

The National Health Service, medical schools, and national bodies need to revitalise the discipline of clinical pharmacology in the UK for the interest of the nation, state the authors of a correspondence letter in this week's issue of The Lancet.

Clinical pharmacologists bring detailed expertise on drug action, dose-response, adverse effects and their use in medical practice. Progress towards a more individual approach to treatment (personalised medicine) will also require substantial input from this profession. In their letter Alasdair Breckenridge (Medicines and Health Regulatory Agency), Colin Dollery (GlaxoSmithKline), Michael Rawlins (National Institute of Health and Clinical Excellence), and Mark Walport (The Wellcome Trust) argue that although the UK was one of the pioneer countries in clinical pharmacology, the overall position of the specialty has now declined sharply.

The authors state: "It is in the national interest that the medical schools, the General Medical Council Education Committee, the National Health Service, the Association of the British Pharmaceutical Industry (ABPI), MHRA, and NICE act together to revitalise clinical pharmacology in the UK."

The letter comes in response to a Comment by Simon Maxwell and David Webb (University of Edinburgh, UK) in the March 11 issue of The Lancet (See Lancet 2006: 367; 799-800), which expressed concerns about the future of clinical pharmacology in the UK.

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Contact: Professor Alasdair Breckenridge, Medicines and Health Regulatory Agency, UK. alasdair.breckenridge@mhra.gsi.gov.uk


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