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Get ‘Em While They’re Young

Pharma companies and pharmacists go a long way to try and teach patients to be safe around medicines and to read medicine labels and leaflets. But let’s be honest: human nature means that people often don’t pay much attention.

At Robert Gordon University in Scotland, pharmacy students have found that children are very keen to soak up information about medicine safety, and so the university has partnered with local schools in Aberdeenshire to conduct workshops.

“Increasing use of social media and the accessibility of information means that children and adults have developed a wider understanding of some of the issues around medicine, but not everything on the Internet is correct so we need to communicate messages in others ways too,” says Alyson Brown, Pharmacy lecturer at Robert Gordon University. “We tried to make it as fun and interactive as possible. We used placebo or pretend tablets for the pupils to count and label, and they measured liquids using different types of apparatus.”

The agenda covers more than simply explaining why medicines are kept out of reach, by delving into the importance of the right amount of medicine, information on labels, expiry dates and storage of medicines. Some workshops have also included discussions about different types of medicines, such as inhalers that deliver drug directly to the lungs, and the production process for making medicines.

“There are already mechanisms in place to support medicines safety with children, but a lot of this is often aimed at the parent. If we can build things like this into education curriculums in a supported way, then we know we are getting the message to those most at risk,” says Brown. “It’s also been good for the pharmacy students, who learn to ‘pitch’ medical information at different levels to a diverse audience.”

The big question is, should pharma get involved? Brown urges companies to consider reaching out to local schools. “Schools are always welcoming of initiatives like this where they can engage with external ‘experts’ and deliver on a key aspect of the curriculum, and I think companies have that expertise and can deliver interactive sessions which would allow children to experience some of the ‘real life’ science in the context of their learning,” she says. “It’s also a great way to promote science and encourage children to get involved.”

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About the Author
Stephanie Vine

Making great scientific magazines isn’t just about delivering knowledge and high quality content; it’s also about packaging these in the right words to ensure that someone is truly inspired by a topic. My passion is ensuring that our authors’ expertise is presented as a seamless and enjoyable reading experience, whether in print, in digital or on social media. I’ve spent fourteen years writing and editing features for scientific and manufacturing publications, and in making this content engaging and accessible without sacrificing its scientific integrity. There is nothing better than a magazine with great content that feels great to read.

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