The overriding message in new guidelines from the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence on medicines optimisation out today is that patients should be central to all decisions on care to ensure the best treatment outcomes are achieved.

Around 15 million people in England alone now have at least one long-term condition, but it is estimated that as many as half of drug prescribed for these patients are not taken as intended, with medicines waste costing the National Health Service £300 million a year in primary care alone.

Moreover, the number of people living with several LTCs and taking a number of medicines is forecast to leap from 1.9 million in 2008 to nearly 3 million by 2018, underscoring the urgent need to address the situation now.

Although medicines optimisation is not a new concept, NICE’s guideline has now drawn on clinical and health economic evidence to set out “what needs to be done by all health and social care practitioners and organisations to put in place the person-centred systems and processes required” to improve outcomes, said its Programme Director for the Medicines and Prescribing Centre Paul Chrisp.

Central to this is a better flow of information between different care providers, given that 30%-70% of patients have an error or unintentional change to their medicines when transferring between care providers, and more frequent and comprehensive medicines reviews.

Leslie Galloway, chairman of Ethical Medicines Industry Group, has welcomed development of the guideline. “Medicines optimisation is central to improving patient outcomes and it is therefore critical all those involved in a patient’s care have clear, practical recommendations to follow,” he said, also noting that “in this current climate of intense cost pressure on the health and care sector the industry must work with the NHS at a local, regional and national level to ensure the greatest amount of value is achieved from medicines”.

Read the full guideline here.