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Cantabrian improving medicine safety

Matthew DoogueClinical pharmacology is the study of drugs in humans. Although medication can save lives and help with chronic health conditions, it can also harm.

Associate Professor Matt Doogue is a key part of Christchurch’s Pharmacology Department, a partnership between the University of Otago, Christchurch, and the Canterbury District Health Board (CDHB). A lot of its work is focused on improving the use and safety of medicines.

Electronic prescribing will reduce drug errors

One big current project is helping develop and improve the electronic prescribing system under development at the CDHB.  Doogue says an electronic system should mean fewer errors in prescribing drugs than the current paper system.

The electronic system will have a built in ‘safety mechanism’ that raises a query if medication prescribed is outside the standard or expected dose for a particular condition, and common and negative interactions between certain medications.

The new software will also record patients who have adverse drug reactions in hospital, so reasons for these can be studied further.

Genetics key to personal medicine

One of Doogue’s research interests is understanding why some people have bad reactions to drugs and others don’t. This involves studying genetic differences between the two groups.

A better understanding of genetic differences could ultimately lead to patients getting personalised medicine – where medical decisions, including medications, are tailored to individual patients based on their predicted response or risk of disease. A person’s genetics could play an important role in their individual needs.