Pfizer is launching a new scratch card for patients, as part of its ongoing campaign to raise awareness of medicines optimisation.

The postcard-sized scratch card was launched at the Pharmacy Show in London on October 5 and will become available to the public on October 20. It aims to improve medicines optimisation by increasing public engagement with pharmacy teams and create opportunities to engage with pharmacy services such as medicines use reviews and the new medicines service.

Developed in consultation with the National Pharmacy Association and supported by the Pharmaceutical Services Negotiating Committee (PSNC), the Royal Pharmaceutical Society and Pharmacy Voice, the scratch card’s public launch will be backed up by a series of awareness-raising events across England and Wales in 2014/15, plus posters to advertise its availability and a campaign guide for pharmacies.

Listed on the card are five simple statements about medicines use. Individuals scratch a section to indicate how strongly they agree or disagree with each statement and then return the card to a member of the pharmacy team who will interpret the responses and provide appropriate advice and guidance.

Pharmacy leaders point out that millions of pounds are wasted every year on unused and untaken medicines and that in many cases this is simply because people do not know enough about their medicines or how to take them. And while initiatives such as the new medicines service (NMS) have been shown to have a positive impact on patient adherence and offering savings to the NHS, public awareness of them is low.

“The scratch cards are designed to capture public attention and I welcome any tool that creates opportunities for pharmacy teams and the public to engage in meaningful conversations about medicines,” said Ash Soni, president of the RPS.

“Community pharmacies are ideally placed to help people to understand how to get the most out of their prescribed medicines, and we know the benefits that this can bring in empowering people to better manage their long-term conditions and to avoid complications that can affect their quality of life and require costly NHS treatments,” added PSNC chief executive Sue Sharpe.

“We have seen the positive difference that both medicines use reviews [MURs} and the NMS can make to medicines adherence levels, so we fully support this initiative which we hope will prove useful to pharmacy teams looking to have those first conversations with patients about their medicines,” she said.

Pfizer’s medicines optimisation awareness-raising campaign is now in its third year.