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New HPRA patient forum to expand membership

A patient forum recently established by the Health Products Regulatory Authority (HPRA) is expected to widen its membership in the coming months, this newspaper has been told. The pilot group met remotely for the first time in September, with some 20 patients and patient group advocates in attendance. The focus of the first meeting was to seek input on the future “operation and functioning of the forum”, according to a spokesperson for the HPRA.

“Over the past number of years, we have been working to increase our interaction with patients and patient advocates, particularly in relation to implementing safety measures for individual medicines,” the spokesperson told the Medical Independent (MI).

“We have also been an educational partner in the patient education programme run by IPPOSI [Irish Platform for Patient Organisations, Science and Industry]. To enhance our patient engagement activities we are establishing a patient forum as a structured means of interacting with patients on more general issues.”

Once the group is formally established, membership will be widened to other patients with an interest in medicines and medical devices and patient groups who can represent the views of their members, the spokesperson added.

“Topics for future meetings…could potentially include the content, format and channels of communications between the HPRA and patients, initiatives linked to adverse reaction reporting and the involvement of patients in the medical devices area.”

Separately, a number of measures were introduced at the HPRA’s Dublin headquarters due to Covid-19. The building had “not been significantly altered”, but significant measures had been taken to meet ‘back to work’ safety protocols. These included the installation of a perspex screen in the reception area, sanitation stations, floor signage, a reconfigured canteen, one-way systems, revised lift programming, and single-use bathrooms and kitchens.

Speaking to MI before level five restrictions, the HPRA’s spokesperson added: “Most of these measures are labour intensive rather than having significant costs. Like all organisations, our expenditure on cleaning consumables, including hand sanitiser, has increased, but we have not separately itemised this and it is offset by a reduction in other office consumables arising from staff working from home.”

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