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University at forefront of improvements in HIV healthcare

For the 36.9 million people worldwide currently living with HIV and the 71 million people living with Hepatitis C, modern antiretroviral therapy (ART) has transformed lives.

Yet while advances in therapy have yielded effective treatments for both diseases, these drugs are amongst the most therapeutically risky for drug-drug interactions (DDIs) which can affect patient safety or the effectiveness of treatment.

To help address this major challenge, an Infection Pharmacology group based in the University’s renowned Molecular and Clinical Pharmacology department has developed an award-winning and widely-used Interaction Checker website and smartphone application. These vital resources enable healthcare professionals to safely prescribe drugs to HIV and hepatitis patients.

Up-to-the-minute interaction information

The application and website, developed and maintained by researchers at the University, provide a guide to interactions that may occur between different HIV and Hepatitis C drugs and over 700 commonly prescribed co-medications, as well as recreational drugs and herbals.

The resources are constantly updated to reflect the latest research and safety data enabling the Infection Pharmacology Group to respond quickly and accurately to over 500,000 DDI queries a month. Last year the sites were accessed by over 300,000 unique visitors from 188 countries.

The smartphone app has been fully optimised for both Android and i0S and can be downloaded for free from the Apple store and Google Play. 

Widespread recognition

Earlier this month, these digital prescribing support resources won the British Medical Association (BMA) MEDFASH Prize, awarded in recognition of work that improves the quality of HIV and sexual healthcare in the UK.

The Drug Interactions team was shortlisted for the Patient Safety category of this year’s British Medical Journal (BMJ) Awards and the world-leading resources were also named Best HIV/AIDS App of 2016 by Healthline.

In December 2017 the Department of Molecular and Clinical Pharmacology was honoured with a Queen’s Anniversary Prize – one of the most prestigious awards in higher education – in recognition of its work to improve the safety and effectiveness of medicines.

Professor Saye Khoo, University of Liverpool’s Institute of Translational Medicine, said: “Mobile and web apps are revolutionising healthcare. We are delighted to have received such prestigious recognition which is much-deserved. It is great to see our application being recognised internationally for our innovative work.”

Global impact

The Department of Molecular and Clinical Pharmacology, which is one of the oldest and largest in the UK, has an international reputation for understanding all aspects of drug actions from designing and creating novel drugs, running clinical trials on new drugs, through to improving the use of existing drugs.

It leads the world in understanding, predicting, and tackling adverse drug reactions and has developed tools that are used globally by physicians to avoid adverse drug reactions in susceptible patients delivering huge impact in the care of millions of patients worldwide.

Katie McAllister, Development Manager, Department of Molecular and Clinical Pharmacology said: “Our resources have a huge impact globally: use of the drug interaction checkers has become an integral part of HIV patient management in the UK and beyond: leading HIV clinicians regularly report what an essential tool it is to their daily practice. We know and are proud that our resources make clinicians’ lives easier.”

Professor Saye Khoo is also leading a consortium which recently revealed the “highly significant” results of a study concerning mother-to-child HIV transmission.