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New research coalition builds on pharmacy's inclusivity opportunity


New research coalition builds on pharmacy's inclusivity opportunity

Pharmacy is centre stage of a new independent non-profit research coalition at the University of Oxford. The Centre for Research Equity (CfRE), which is led by Professors Mahendra Patel and Chris Butler, aims to advance understanding and improve inclusive research practice and community engagement.

The CfRE – its full title adds “through Pharmacies, Communities and Healthcare” – intends to build on Professor Patel’s work as diversity and inclusion lead for the PRINCIPLE and PANORAMIC Covid studies. His brief was to widen participation in the trials among minority ethnic and other groups normally missing from the data, using community pharmacy networks, faith and community groups, and specific interest health and care groups.   

Speaking at the launch yesterday at the University’s Said Business School, Professor Patel said that the experience of Covid had been a catalyst to doing things differently. “In two, large scale trials, we recruited in a democratic fashion, across ethnicities – we still have work to do, of course – so for example, in the PANORAMIC trial we recruited 4 per cent in the South Asian diaspora against a national census data population of 3.7 per cent. We also recruited across areas of high deprivation.”

In a demonstration of the pharmacy network opportunity, he showed that it was only when adding community pharmacy recruitment of participants into the PRINCIPLE trial, that it could be said to be a truly national study.

Now the Centre aims to increase research equity through collaboration, spanning boundaries, sharing knowledge, expertise resources to reduce research, and therefore health disparities in the population. It is welcoming membership from institutions, organisations and enterprises that support a better future for the whole population.

As testament to interest generated so far, the launch meeting heard from the BAPS Neasden Temple, the British Islamic Medical Association, the Medical Association of Nigerians across Great Britain, the International Institute of Rural Health, Macmillan Cancer Support, Boots UK and the Royal College of General Practitioners. Pharmacy was well represented; the audience included three of the UK’s chief pharmaceutical officers, as well as the president of the RPS, the vice-president of APTUK and the former chair of the NPA.

In a video message, Professor Sir David Haslam, former BMA and RCGP president and past chair of the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE), said that research really matters. “As they say in the world of computing, ‘garbage in, garbage out’. The data you use in developing evidence has to be of the highest possible standard. If it isn’t, the research will at best be only partially true, risking suboptimal outcomes. There can be no possible argument against supporting, encouraging and developing inclusive research. Try suggesting the opposite: that research should exclude specific communities.” 

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