The Pharmacy Team in MND-SMART

Emma Galloway, Ipswich pharmacist with pharmacy robot background

We caught up with Emma Galloway, clinical pharmacist at Ipswich Hospital and asked her about the role of pharmacy in MND-SMART.

Emma Galloway is a clinical trials pharmacist at the Ipswich Hospital, part of the East Suffolk and North Essex NHS Foundation Trust. Emma helped set-up the pharmacy side of MND-SMART in Ipswich who started recruiting patients to the trial in October 2021.

The pharmacy teams at each of our 17 sites have a really important role and are part of the team as Emma says:

It's great that we're able to provide pharmacy support and be part of the team trying to find new potential treatments for MND."

Emma Galloway

The clinical trials pharmacy team have been nominated as finalists for the East Suffolk and North Essex NHS Foundation Trust 'Team of the Year' award. It's great to see this recognition of their important role.

We asked Emma to tell us a bit more about her job and role in MND-SMART.

Did you always want to be a pharmacist?

Both my parents are pharmacists and when I was younger I thought it looked very stressful. But then I got a job in a community pharmacy when I was 16 and actually really loved it. I'd always really liked science at school and wanted to go into healthcare. I just changed my mind inside and thought 'this is what I am going to do.' Work experience really played a bit part in that decision. 

Why did you then specialise in pharmacy for clinical trials?

It's really interesting to see what's on the horizon for new treatments and to be involved in dispensing medications for lots of different conditions. The pharmacy is an integral part of running clinical trials. A job came up and I went for it, that was three years ago and I've really enjoyed it.

What things do you do in a typical day at work? And we know there are no typical days!

I deal with dispensing prescriptions so participants get their trial drugs either in hospital or to take home. We receive and document shipments of drugs for all the trials and make sure we've got enough stock. We have quite a small team here so we all work together. There are pharmacy technicians and assistants as well as pharmacists like me.

I have to be very flexible when working on clinical trials as things are always changing and cropping up. I'm also a clinical pharmacist based on the stroke unit, so I usually spend my mornings on the ward providing clinical pharmacy service to them but often dal with trial related issues too.

Can you outline what pharmacy do for MND-SMART?

Pharmacies manage all of the medication side of the trial. So we're responsible for making sure that the medication that we're supplying is stored in the correct way. We ensure it's dispensed as per the protocol (official guidance), and follows clinical trial related guidelines. We make sure the medication is ready for participants when they need it and also arrnge for delivery of trial drug to patients' homes. 

Finally we ensure that trial documentation is correct and kept updated, this includes informaiton on paper and on computer databases.

Why is the storage of medicines so important?

It's important that medications are stored at the right temperature as this can affect how well the medicine works. In clinical trials this is especially important as the results of the trial affect whether the medicine is approved for use. There will be clear instructions on the label which we follow in the pharmacy and participants shold also do this at home. If in doubt, don't hesitate to ask your trial team for advice.

What makes MND-SMART different to other trials that you work on?

This is the first MND trial I've personally worked on and I don't think we've done another medication related MND clinical trial in our Trust. I think it's really good that we're expanding our portfolio of conditions and that we're able to provide pharmacy support and be part of the team trying to find new potential treatments for MND. I think that's great. 

It's a bit unusual that the trial drugs are liquid, we've got a lot of trials using tablets and capsules and even injections. Formulating a liquid for a double-blinded study must be so complicated, but fascinating. It's so important though, as it means that patients are able to access the medicatuions in the appropriate way. This will help produce high quality research to hopefully improve the quality of life of thos living with MND.

Finally Emma, can you share with us what you do when you're not working on MND-SMART?

Well, I've just got a new kitten, so I've been spending my time playing with him. I'm pretty active, I like doing yoga, reading and seeing friends - but the kitten's been taking a lot of my time recently. 


This article was published on: Thursday, 21 April, 2022