Medicines optimisation

"Medicines optimisation is a vital agenda, not an agenda added on to something else we are trying to do, this is absolutely central to it."

Sir David Nicholson, Chief Executive, NHS

About medicines optimisation

The NHS Constitution establishes the principles and values of the NHS in England. It sets out rights to which patients, public and staff are entitled, and pledges which the NHS is committed to achieve, together with responsibilities, which the public, patients and staff owe to one another to ensure that the NHS operates fairly and effectively.

Set in this context, the evidence base, which clearly demonstrates there is much to be done to help patients, public and society more broadly get best outcomes from medicines, is concerning. From patients receiving insufficient information about their medicines to too many hospital admissions caused by the adverse effects of medicines which could have been prevented, professionals and patients need to work much closer together to improve the quality of medicines use.

The Good practice guidance for healthcare professionals in England represents a collaboration between patients and the health professionals that care for them. It sets out four simple but important principles of 'medicines optimisation' that could revolutionise medicines use and outcomes: aim to understand the patient's experience, evidence based choice of medicines, ensure medicines use is as safe as possible, make medicines optimisation part of routine practice. The pharmacy profession need to adopt these principles to improve the prescribing, dispensing, administering or taking of medicines.

Given that medicines remain the most common therapeutic intervention in healthcare, and colleagues in research and the broad pharmaceutical industry have worked hard to discover and develop safe and effective medicines, we must all work even harder together to ensure that individual patients and society gets as much value out of that effort as possible, and resources are used wisely and effectively.

Getting the most out of your medicines

Medicines management is a part of the wider medicines optimisation agenda.
It focuses on the prescribing of medicines, the impact on the prescribing and drugs budget, the access to high-risk & high-cost medicines and elements of safety.

What is the Royal Pharmaceutical Society doing to support medicines optimisation? 

As the Professional Leadership Body for pharmacists one of our roles is that of providing national leadership and a voice for the profession both with patients and with other professions. As your leadership body we have started a dialogue with these groups about the need for medicines optimisation and how it can improve patient outcomes in practice. We have led on the development of the good practice guidance for healthcare professionals and the supporting patient resource.

To make medicines optimisation real for different audiences we have supported the principles document with patient stories and examples of activities that can help to optimise medicines. If we think about it for a minute, we have all seen patients whose outcomes could have been improved if their medicines had been optimised, whether through better use of inhalers to improve symptom control in asthma, or the stopping of unnecessary medicines likely to cause falls in older people. Using patient stories as illustrations we will help to explain medicines optimisation to different audiences. If you have any additional examples of services that deliver medicines optimisation then please send them to

As well as the national engagement strategy, we are providing support directly for you. We have produced a PowerPoint presentation and a briefing document which includes a summary of the evidence that supports medicines optimisation activities. More resources will follow to help keep you informed about what we're doing & ensure you're supported throughout this journey.