A panoramic view of the medicines landscape


Before becoming a writer in training at Wordbird I was oblivious to the plethora of promotional material that is imposed on us daily. Companies often make big claims, even if they’re not precisely true. But things have to be so much stricter when it comes to healthcare. It’s common sense really, but something I had never truly considered when I looked in my bathroom cabinet.

After broadening my knowledge about the rules and regulations in healthcare advertising, I received some valuable medicines landscape training where we delved into the wonderful world of codes of practice.

Here’s what I took away from my training:

1. Compounds, classifications and codes
It’s a long and winding path from drug discovery to the production of a successful medicine. It can mean filtering out one drug from a pool of 10,000 compounds over many years. But not all drugs are the same, and it’s important to know the classification and relevant code so the correct rules are followed when promoting the drug to the public.

2. The codes of practice that govern each classification
I was introduced to the PMCPA and PAGB codes, essential to any healthcare agency. The PMCPA code deals with prescription medicines while the PAGB codes are for over-the-counter drugs. Pages and pages of guidelines to ensure we get it right every time.

3. It’s possible to reclassify medicines
You might think that a POM is a POM for a reason, and therefore it will always be a POM. But it’s not all set in stone. It’s possible to switch between classifications. A POM-to-P switch can allow consumers easier access to effective drugs and the pharmacist’s role to progress.

4. Breaking the code
I was asked to browse case studies on the PMCPA website where a breach had or had not been made. I was surprised to find that there are a number of examples of misleading healthcare communication out there, and it’s our job to make certain we’re not one of them!

5. The grand scheme of things
The most important take away from this training was realising why all of this mattered to me as an Assistant Healthcare Copywriter, and to Wordbird as a whole. We need to follow the standards laid out in the codes at all times and ensure we are the best of the best.

By Emma Bellerby, Assistant Copywriter and new aficionado of codes