The 50th ESCP Symposium “Polypharmacy and ageing” took place in congress hotel Olšanka, Prague, Czech Republic on October 19 – 21, 2022 and emphasized the important role of clinical pharmacists in the resolution of drug-therapy problems in older adults. These individuals often have multiple chronic disease conditions treated by polypharmacy. Almost 500 professionals of various background from EU and non-EU countries attended this event.

The pre-symposium event was the Masterclass on Excellence in Research oriented to “Methodologies in Deprescribing”, organized by ESCP Research Committee o led by Assoc. Prof. Cathal Cadogan and Dr. Juliette O´Connel (Trinity College, Dublin, Ireland).

The official opening ceremony commenced with a welcome from the ESCP President, Prof. Derek Stewart, highlighting key initiatives of ESCP and progressing the development of clinical pharmacy education, science, and practice in Europe. Prof. Stewart applauded the work of all ESCP committees, and the recently launched Special Interest Groups on “Deprescribing”, “Mental Health” and “Young ESCP”.

Assoc. Prof. Daniela Fialová, President of the symposium emphasized major achievements of Czech clinical pharmacy, particularly establishing fully reimbursed clinical pharmacy positions in acute (2010) and ambulatory care (2020) by Czech Professional Society of Clinical Pharmacists of J.B. Purkyně. She welcomed honorable guests of the Czech Republic, particularly Deans of both Faculties of Pharmacy in Hradec Králové and Brno, representatives of the Institute for Postgraduate Education in HealthCare and State Institute for Drug Control, representatives of the Czech clinical pharmacy platforms, Czech pharmaceutical and medical societies and the Ministry of Health of the Czech Republic.

ESCP Fellowships were awarded to Prof. Filipa Alves da Costa (Portugal), Prof. Stephane Steubart (Belgium), and Prof. Bart van den Bemt (the Netherlands) for their outstanding contributions to clinical pharmacy education, practice and research in Europe.

Filipa Alves da Costa is Assistant Professor at the Faculty of Pharmacy University of Lisbon, where she leads the Pharmaceutical Care and Clinical Pharmacy Laboratory. She is Associate Editor of the International Journal of Clinical Pharmacy, Frontiers in Pharmacology and Pharmacy Education. She is immediate past Chair of the ESCP Education Committee and was President of the 2021 annual symposium.

Hege Salvesen Blix is Professor in Clinical Pharmacy at the University of Oslo and a pioneer of clinical pharmacy in Norway. She has been a member of ESCP for many years, most recently being a member of the General Committee and representative on the Education Committee.

Bart van den Bemt is Professor of Personalized Pharmaceutical Care at Radboud University/Radboud university medical center. He has a long history of involvement in national and international pharmacy organizations. He has had many roles at ESCP, most notably that of immediate past President.

Stephane Steurbaut is Sector Lead for research, education, and innovation at the Department of Hospital Pharmacy, UZ Brussel, Belgium and Associate Professor in Pharmaceutical Care, Faculty of Medicine & Pharmacy, VUB, Belgium. Like Bart, he also has had many roles at ESCP, most notably that of immediate past Secretary to the General Committee.

The ESCP President thanked all four for their international leadership in clinical pharmacy, highlighting their specific impacts on ESCP.

Czech national awards were given to renowned persons supporting advances in clinical pharmacy nationally, Prof. Ludmila Kameníková, Prof. Jiří Vlček, Prof. Tomáš Šimůnek, PharmDr. Jana Gregorová, Ph.D., Assoc. Prof. Daniela Fialová, PharmD, Ph.D. and PharmDr. Milada Halačová, Ph.D.

The first plenary lecture of Prof. Graziano Onder (Roma, Italy) focused on increasing trends in multimorbidity in older adults, strategies to diagnose geriatric syndromes and how to prevent geriatric drug-related morbidity and polypharmacy.  Prof. Tobias Dreischult (Munich, Germany) emphasized the role of clinical pharmacists in resolution of polypharmacy and multidrug therapy problems in complex older adults, as well as the importance of the Theory of Planned Behaviour for making long-term change in prescribing and ensuring positive impact of clinical pharmacy services. Prof. Carmel Hughes (Dublin, Ireland) delivered the Steve Hudson Memorial Lecture highlighting facilitators and barriers to clinical pharmacy research and the negative impact of COVID-19 pandemic on complex research activities, particularly on projects in multimorbid older patients in primary care. She noted future opportunities and challenges to clinical pharmacy research in geriatric polypharmacy. Further plenary lectures highlighted the specific approaches of pharmacotherapy and care for complex older patients, impact of population ageing, new European initiatives in reducing polypharmacy burden in complex older adults (e.g., EU projects SENATOR, OPERAM, EuroAgeism-ESR7, I-CARE4OLD and the others) and other specific topics of geriatric clinical pharmacy. Main plenary lectures were accompanied by interesting workshops, oral and poster presentations, and round table discussions.

Political representatives featured throughout the program, including a round table discussion targeted at supporting reimbursement of clinical pharmacy services in different settings of care and different European countries. Representatives included Prof. Alpana Mair from Scotland (Chair of the European projects focused on polypharmacy- EU SIMPATHY and i-SIMPATHY), Prof. Mateo Cesari, Switzerland (Ageing Unit of the World Health Organization), Dr. Francois-Lery Xavier and Dr. Silvia Ravella, France (European Directorate for the Quality of Medicines and Healthcare of the European Council), Prof. Barbro Westerholm, Sweden (Age Platform Europe, Brussels) and Prof. Angela Kydd, UK (the EUROAGEISM H2020 project) contributed to policy talks and discussions.

Two affiliated symposia had participation of clinical pharmacists from Central and Eastern Europe (1) on establishing paid research positions of clinical pharmacists in various settings of care and (2) collaboration of clinical pharmacists and physicians in care for older adults using polypharmacy in different healthcare settings (3 and 4) Research Symposia of the EU projects I-CARE4OLD H2020 (2021-2025) and EuroAgeism ESR7 H2020 (2017-2022) (Oct 20, 2022). These symposia aimed to inspire participants in supporting development of paid clinical pharmacy positions and to stimulate European research in geriatric clinical pharmacy and deprescribing. 

We would like to thank to all members of the symposium Organizing and Scientific Committees, all plenary speakers, Masterclass and workshop moderators, active and passive participants, ESCP committee members, policy representatives, professional conference organizer C-IN, International Office, and local organizing teams from congress venue Olšanka, as well as student helpers from the Faculty of Pharmacy, Charles University in Hradec Králové for their help and excellent support of the whole organization of Prague ESCP congress! Many thanks also to all our sponsors!

Text: Assoc. Prof. Daniela Fialová, PharmD, Ph.D. and Organizing Committee of Prague 2022 ESCP congress

Photos: Rudolf Kovář, Andrea Pezzillo, Andrea Vokálová