#14 Helping the public make decisions about medicines

To celebrate the Academy’s 20th birthday, we have put together a snapshot of 20 of our biggest impacts. To find out more about our 20th celebrations and our future plans, read this blog by our President Professor Sir Robert Lechler, and follow #AMS20 on social media.

The Academy would like to thank all our funders, partners and collaborators, without whom none of this work would be possible.


#14 Helping the public make decisions about medicines

“The public is exposed to a constant flow of frequently confusing and contradictory health news stories. The Academy seeks to help all parties rise above the heated debate of the day and gives independent, evidence-based information, striving to help ensure that the public receives the best possible information about their health.”

Hilary Newiss, Chair of National Voices

Millions of us take medicines every day and scientific research has given us more treatments than ever before. In 2017, the Academy launched a report that scrutinised how we can all be supported to make better judgements about the benefits and harms of medicines.

The report explored the processes involved in choosing medicines, including the way evidence is generated and communicated as well as its trustworthiness, in a landscape charged by explosive debates around medicines such as hormone replacement therapy for the menopause, statins for heart disease, and the antiviral flu treatment Tamiflu.

From our dialogue with patients and the public, we found that only one in three people trust information from medical research, compared to approximately two thirds of people who trust information from their friends and family. To help people have better conversations with their doctors, we launched a set of questions they could ask about their treatment that have been endorsed by the Royal College of GPs.

Following the Academy’s report, the Medical Research Council published a Charter to summarise the values that underpin their engagement with industry and the Bioindustry Association produced a new best practice guide to help bioscience companies communicate their work, both responding to our recommendations in this area. The report also led to the development of a new scheme to help journalists navigate health press releases. The scheme has been adopted by 39 scientific media offices, including research institutes, funders and scientific journals.

To find out more about our work, visit our homepage. To support the work of the Academy, see our dedicated Support us webpage.


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