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New report calls for clearer communication on medicines

The Academy of Medical Sciences has published a report entitled ‘Enhancing the use of scientific evidence to judge the potential benefits and harms of medicines’, which highlights the significant difficulties patients and some healthcare professionals face in using evidence from research to judge the benefits and harms of medicines. The report calls for concerted action to improve the information patients receive, including significant improvements to patient information leaflets, better use of medical appointments and a bigger role for NHS Choices as the ‘go to’ source of trusted information online for patients and carers, as well as healthcare professionals.

In response to this report, the BSI has issued the following statement:

Professor Peter Openshaw, President of the British Society for Immunology, said:

“The use of powerful new approaches to discovering novel treatments is leading to a gratifying flood of new drugs to treat a range of conditions. For example, immunology is seeing a revolution in our understanding of the basic science behind how the immune system functions; month by month, new treatments are licensed that extend the therapeutic options we can offer patients.  As we gather knowledge and experience, vaccines and immune-based treatments are set to bring immense benefits to patients.

“However, this report from the Academy of Medical Sciences is a timely reminder that we must always keep in mind the most important person in this equation – the patient.  Engaging with patients, funders and the public to clearly communicate the science behind these medical innovations and in turn listen their viewpoints and concerns is a key part of our role as doctors and scientists. Providing accurate and accessible information on medical innovations and educating people on how to judge the benefits and harms of medicines should be seen as an integral part of developing any new treatment.  It is only by working in close partnership with patients, clearly and honestly explaining the scientific evidence, that we can fully realise the huge potential that 21st century medical science offers.

“The British Society for Immunology is pleased to have provided financial support for this important initiative.”    


The full report can be downloaded from the Academy of Medical Sciences website. 

The British Society for Immunology provided a donation to the Academy of Medical Science to fund this workstream.   Our President, Professor Peter Openshaw, also gave evidence in one of the hearings that contributed to this report.