We agree and support wholeheartedly the views expressed by Brian Furman (The Pharmaceutical Journal
2014;293:276) in his response to the recent suggestion from Bill Scott, the chief pharmaceutical officer for Scotland, that science be removed from the MPharm curriculum.
We have never taken the stance that pharmacy should be either a science- or practice-driven profession but rather a profession which blends both disciplines to the benefit of patients. In fact, our newly re-accredited MPharm Degree uses the motif of ‘Science transforming healthcare’.
For King’s College London, as for any school of pharmacy, to develop and nurture future pharmacists who do not understand how pharmaceuticals are discovered, developed and formulated — and how their quality and efficacy can be impaired — would, in our view, be a major cause for concern for patient safety.
The science underpinning medicines development is continually evolving and a whole new wave of biological therapeutic agents are in development, which require specialist handling, storage and supply. Pharmacists, as pharmaceutical scientists, are uniquely placed among healthcare professionals to ensure that these medicines are appropriately used and dispensed.
Perhaps Scott’s comments are useful in that they show the science versus practice debate never really went away and that it is imperative we emphasise in our MPharm curricula that the science and practice components of pharmacy are mutually interdependent.
Institute of Pharmaceutical Science
Department of Pharmacy & Forensic Science
King’s College London