Friday 17th September marks World Patient Safety Day, campaign for all stakeholders in the health care system to work together and share engagement to improve patient safety. We asked the Director of Global Patient Safety, Dr. Anju Agarwal, about the importance of patient safety and what it means to her.
Patient safety forms the essential foundation of any healthcare system. While the introduction of innovative treatments, technologies and care models have shown great potential in transforming outcomes, they also pose new questions for monitoring and keeping patients safe, so much so that patient safety is now being recognised as a growing public health challenge.
In 2019, the World Health Organisation (WHO) introduced a World Patient Safety Day to be recognised on the 17th of September every year, as a moment to facilitate discussion around ensuring safe and respectful care for patients worldwide. The awareness day urges stakeholders to unite and act now to reduce any potential patient harm.
At ADVANZ PHARMA, we hold patient safety paramount in all that we do. We work collectively and purposefully to ensure that our products and practices are as safe as possible for patients, and that rigorous processes are followed across the globe – both for ourselves and the many partners we work with.
Key to making products safe and effective for patients is transparent communication, not only with regulatory agencies across the globe but also healthcare providers, patients and patient representatives and care givers. Our Patient Safety team in ADVANZ PHARMA works hard to ensure patients are kept updated not only with newly identified risks, but also with information as to how we plan to mitigate those risks. Key safety-focused documents such as ‘Dear Healthcare Professional’ letters and Patient Educational Materials for any identified drug risk are proactively published and distributed to relevant stakeholders.
ADVANZ PHARMA has a presence in over 95 countries worldwide so as an organization, we are very cognisant of the need to consider geographic, cultural and different healthcare system specificities when interacting with our stake holders. We work closely with regional drug regulatory agencies to ensure appropriate risk minimization measures are in place, and that these are relevant and specific to regional needs, so as to ensure the continued supply of safe medicines globally.
Pharmacovigilance is the science of monitoring, reviewing, evaluating, and communicating information on the safety of pharmaceutical products to patients. Our Patient Safety team forms part of the Medical Office in ADVANZ PHARMA and comprises highly talented, experienced and well-trained Physicians, Dentists, Pharmacists and Scientists. We work across global, regional and local pharmacovigilance needs, and work closely where needed with regional and local partner organisations. The Patient Safety team is divided into specialist sub-teams including: Signal Detection, Risk Management and Planning, Safety Aggregate Report Writing, Safety Variations, Safety Database Management and Case Processing, Safety Data Exchange Management and the Pharmacovigilance System File Management Team. All are experts in their respective specialist areas, and we find that having dedicated teams focused in this way helps to secure the best outcomes for all parties, not least our patients.
The importance of close working and transparent and effective communications with regulatory agencies was thrown sharply into focus with the COVID-19 pandemic. The urgent need for effective treatment options to be made available in extremely short spaces of time resulted in some of our longstanding approved medicines for other conditions being repurposed for COVID-19 treatment.
However, this did not mean that regulatory and quality standards were any less rigorous or that safety considerations were compromised. Even in such scenarios, rigorous monitoring is applied. Especially, in the last 18 months, we have worked in partnership with research agencies to gather vital real-world data which has been used to inform the selection of medicines for treating COVID-19 patients on a case by case basis.
As a medical professional, I am proud to be part of a community that is centred on patient wellbeing. In my role as the Director of Global Patient Safety, I always ensure we consider what individual patients may be facing during treatment, and make sure they are aware of any associated risk. Finding solutions that will directly protect patients is what motivates me on a daily basis, as well as working closely with physicians and agencies to enhance their safety.
Looking ahead, we continuously seek ways to improve, either in how we monitor, identify, or further refine our processes and procedures to minimise risk to patients.
World Patient Safety Day is an important opportunity to come together, remind ourselves of why what we do is so important, and reassert the patient voice, relevance and importance at the heart of all that we do. I look forward to seeing its continued impact in the years to come.
For this year’s World Patient Safety Day, the WHO urges all stakeholders to “Act now for safe and respectful childbirth!” with the theme “Safe maternal and new-born care”. Why does this resonate with the team I lead at ADVANZ PHARMA?
A ‘healthy mother and child’ serves to remind us what we should all be striving for across the globe; considering the significant burden of potential harm women and newborns may be exposed to as a result of drug side effects, we have a moral responsibility to ensure drugs on, or being introduced to the market are safe.
We routinely evaluate drugs for effect in pregnant women and new born children through a variety of in-silico, in-vitro and in-vivo tests, and safety signals are rigorously evaluated to ensure that potential risk is eliminated, or minimized; further, safety vigilance continues throughout the lifecycle of products and there are multiple programmes at our disposal that we can employ to safeguard patient well-being, such as pregnancy prevention programs, controlled distribution measures and educational materials for patients, care givers and healthcare providers.
World Health Organisation. Patient Safety. Available at: https://www.who.int/health-topics/patient-safety#tab=tab_1 Last accessed: September 2021