Leonora O'Brien

Laureate 2013

Leonora O'Brien

Pharmapod supplies pharmacists with a cloud-based platform to record and report adverse drug effects.

A man goes into a pharmacy and tells the pharmacist, ‘I took this pill last night and now I’m feeling very ill.’ The pharmacist replies: ‘OK sir, I’m going to report this.’ This is no joke; this is a reality in the healthcare sector. One look at the headlines is proof enough. In June 2013, a laboratory in France withdrew a series of diuretic pills due to an unexplained error: a blister pack appeared to contain sleeping pills instead. The alert was raised by a pharmacist, who had reasonable cause for alarm when investigating a client reporting the believed mix-up. For the lab and the authorities, precaution prevailed. A switch of that nature could be harmful to patients.

Potential mix-ups such as this are thankfully rare among the millions of medicines taken. But trained pharmacist Leonora O’Brien points out that ‘in Europe, up to 197,000 deaths a year are caused by adverse reaction to medicines that are appropriately prescribed.’ Concern is also rising over falsified drugs, and not just in developing markets. Europe has tackled these issues with new directives that enforce reporting obligations for healthcare professionals. Pharmapod has been developed to help pharmacists fulfil these obligations.