Specialisms | Clinical Pharmaceutical Science

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Emily Plimmer, 1st year Clinical Pharmaceutical Science trainee in Staffordshire talks about her role.

Clinical Pharmaceutical Science (CPS) is one of those specialisms that always seem to make trainees in other areas pull a confused face – they’ve often never even heard of us! Yet the work we do is absolutely vital for patients. In simple terms, we make medicines. However, that really doesn’t do it justice; we are involved in not only making medicines, but ensuring standards of safety, efficacy and quality are met for all patients, and that is no mean feat!

We work over 5 main areas:

Aseptic Services

  • Involves the dispensing and preparation of sterile (free of bacteria and other living microorganisms) medicines.
  • Includes making individualised medicines, such as :
    • Intravenous feeding (parenteral nutrition) bags to help patients who can’t eat or absorb food through the normal channels
    • Cancer chemotherapy
    • Monoclonal antibodies (a type of cancer treatment)
    • Antibiotics
    • Emergency and palliative care medicines

Manufacturing/Production

  • Involves large or smaller scale making and distributing of medicines in the safest means possible, following good manufacturing practice and approved methods, equipment and techniques
  • Includes developing new and existing methods, for old and new medicines. This can include drugs for clinical trials.

Radiopharmacy

  • Involves the manufacture and supply of radioactive substances used in nuclear medicine.
  • These medicines are used in treatment, diagnosis and monitoring of various health issues, such as cancer, heart and kidney conditions.

Quality Assurance

  • Involves maintaining quality at every stage of manufacture (of any kind), by ensuring procedures are fit for purpose and adhered to, errors are investigated and accounted for, and that in-process controls are followed.

Quality Control

  • Involves undertaking chemical and microbiological tests on all components of medicines, including, but not limited to:
    • The raw materials used to manufacture them
    • Packaging
    • Any intermediate or bulk products
    • The final product (in its final packaging)
    • Environmental monitoring of all areas involved in making medicines
    • Water quality
    • Documentation of products, materials, packaging etc.
    • Validation of equipment and procedures

As you can see, the work we do is both diverse and essential to the smooth running of the NHS. Daily routine depends on which area you’re specialised in, but the great thing about the STP is that you get to experience all of them, throughout the whole 3 years. If you’re from a chemistry, pharmacy or related background and not sure about applying, or didn’t even realise this specialism existed, I’d say to do some research, maybe see if you can arrange a tour around a unit. In my opinion, it’s definitely worth a look!

If anyone has any questions, feel free to contact me through the blog.

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