A round-up of today's other stories in brief
Reading poor handwriting costs pharmacists time
PHARMACISTS SPEND an average of four hours a week deciphering and reworking illegible prescriptions, a report on the pharmacy industry has found.
Adding Value to Irish Community Pharmacy, a report by consultants Leading Edge Group, found more than €300 million could be saved in community pharmacies and pharmacists could be freed up to provide cost-
effective health services if changes including the printing of prescriptions were introduced.
A once-off saving of €114 million could be achieved by stock-control mechanisms including reducing the wastage of out-of-date drugs and introducing an automatic replenishment system with wholesalers. The report found there was a high administrative burden associated with HSE drug schemes that could be eased by rationalising the schemes.
Significantly reducing the time pharmacy technicians spend completing HSE paperwork could save Irish community pharmacies up to €9 million a year, “freeing up pharmacy technician time equivalent to adding almost 300 pharmacy technicians to the national pharmacy workforce”.
Eliminating or significantly reducing the need for pharmacists to “decipher and rework” prescriptions, which takes on average four hours a week, could save Irish community pharmacies €13 million a year. The report recommendations included that funding schemes be streamlined and enhanced, prescriptions should be printed instead of handwritten by doctors and pharmacists should improve their stock control.
New technique has first pregnancy
THE HARI Clinic, the national fertility centre based at the Rotunda, has reported the first Irish pregnancy resulting from a technique known as vitrification, which is a new option for couples trying to have children.
Although the current method of slow freezing has good success rates, vitrification involves the ultra-rapid freezing of embryos and oocytes (eggs). It has been shown to improve both embryo and egg survival rates by as much as 20 per cent.
Gut bacteria regulate happiness, study shows
THE AMOUNT of bacteria in our gut during early life can impact our happiness levels as adults, according to a new breakthrough in research from University College Cork. Scientists from the Alimentary Pharmabiotic Centre at UCC have shown that brain levels of serotonin, the “happy hormone”, are regulated by the amount of bacteria in the gut during early life. Serotonin, the major chemical involved in the regulation of mood and emotion, is altered in times of stress, anxiety and depression, and most clinically effective antidepressant drugs work by targeting this neurochemical.
The research, which has been published in the leading international psychiatry journal, Molecular Psychiatry, shows that normal adult brain function depends on the presence of gut microbes during development. The study showed that the absence of bacteria during early life significantly affected serotonin concentrations in the brain in adulthood.
“As a neuroscientist, these findings are fascinating as they highlight the important role that gut bacteria play in the bidirectional communication between the gut and the brain, and opens up the intriguing opportunity of developing unique microbial-based strategies for treatment for brain disorders,” said Prof John F Cryan, senior author on the publication and head of the Department of Anatomy and Neuroscience at UCC.
Lead author Dr Gerald Clarke said this research had multiple health implications as it showed that manipulations of the microbiota (eg by antibiotics, diet or infection) could have profound knock-on effects on brain function.