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Professor Taylor on being the Chair of The British Pharmacopoeia Commission

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Members of the BP Commission assembled on the terrace at the House of Lords
Professor Kevin Taylor (fourth from the right) with the British Pharmacopoeia Commission in 2014: 150th Anniversary of the British Pharmacopoeia, House of Lords

Professor Kevin Taylor has been the Chair of the British Pharmacopoeia Commission (BPC) for the past 2 terms. Here he shares some of the highlights and achievements of his successful 8-year period as Chair.

The BPC will be looking to appoint a new Chair from October 2021. To find out more about the role and to receive alerts about when it opens for applications visit our website.

The British Pharmacopoeia (BP) is situated within the Inspection, Enforcement, and Standards Division of the MHRA. The BP is a collection of official standards for pharmaceutical and medicinal products that are marketed in the UK. It is published annually and brings together all the national standards developed by the BP and the standards of the European Pharmacopoeia. A product on the UK market must be able to comply with the requirements of the BP throughout its shelf‐life.

What does the role of Chair of the BPC involve?

The Chair has significant responsibilities, and is often the figurehead and spokesperson for the BP.

A key role is to provide leadership to the BPC, ensuring the preparation of appropriate new and revised texts for the British Pharmacopoeia, which is published each year. This requires fostering constructive and productive relationships between Commission members, the BP Secretariat, BP laboratory staff, and members of the BP’s Expert Advisory Groups (EAG) and Panels of Experts. The Chair will draw upon their own (and others’) knowledge and experience of the international regulatory and pharmacopoeial landscapes, and their understanding of therapeutic and analytical positioning of the BP to enhance its international standing.

The most obvious duty is to chair meetings of the BPC effectively, in order to:

  • harness the enormous collective expertise and experience of the members
  • ensure that the published standards are fit for purpose
  • shape BP policy
  • identify key areas for future activity

The Chair also:

  • conducts annual performance appraisals of Commission members
  • is a member of, or chairs, one of the BP’s EAGs
  • is a member of the UK Delegation to the European Pharmacopoeia Commission

What have been the highlights of your time on the Commission?

As I near the end of my second term as Chair, I realise how much I have enjoyed the experience. I feel very privileged to have had the opportunity to work with a really committed group of Commissioners and BP staff, dedicated to maintaining the BP as an international pharmacopoeia with a reputation for innovation, high quality standards, and for engaging actively with its users. There have been many highlights, so I’ll outline just a few.

Very early on in my time as Chair, the BP celebrated its 150th anniversary with a very well attended meeting, which ran over several days, and a reception held at the House of Lords. This was a great opportunity to meet with delegates from many international pharmacopoeias, to discuss future developments in quality standards and to think about how the pharmacopoeial community might work together effectively in the future. Mostly though, it was a joyous celebration of 150 years of achievements for the BP nationally and internationally.

Another highlight has been attending the meetings of the European Pharmacopoeia Commission in Strasbourg (pandemic permitting) as a member of the UK delegation. These meetings are always interesting and can sometimes be very challenging, due to differences of pharmacopoeial traditions and practices between the member states. The UK is an enthusiastic participant in these meetings and in the work of the European Pharmacopoeia more generally. It is great to be able to contribute to developing medicines standards at the wider European level, to share the BP experience, and to meet with, and learn from, other delegations. These visits to Strasbourg have also provided a better opportunity to get to know, and share ideas with, some of my fellow BP Commissioners and members of BP staff.

Thinking about the many changes and developments at the BP during my time as Chair, highlights include the great improvements to the BP website over the years, and the way the BP has forged an international reputation for leading on pharmacopoeial developments in new areas, such as developing standards for biological medicines and analytical quality by design.

Why are the BP and BP Commission important to the public, industry, and hospital sectors?

 The BPC is responsible for preparing new editions of the BP and BP (Vet). In practice, this means that Commission members work with the BP Secretariat to ensure that each edition of the BP is produced in a timely manner, and that published standards are up to date, useful, and usable. The BP contains legally enforceable quality standards for medicinal products, sold and supplied in the UK - hence it is a key component of the regulatory framework that ensures that prescribed medicines and those purchased from a pharmacy or supermarket are safe and efficacious. The monographs and testing methods of the BP support the development and quality control of medicines, including for some herbal and unlicensed medicines. Patients, industry, and the NHS are key stakeholders for the BP, and for this reason applicants to the BP Commission from hospital and industry sectors are actively encouraged. Two lay members are also appointed.

How much work is involved with being the Chair of the Commission?

The amount of work involved will depend on:

  • an individual’s personality
  • their approach to meeting preparation
  • their engagement outside of meetings

It is quite possible to fulfil the role of Chair whilst being in full-time employment.

Each year there are:

3 x 1-day meetings of the BP Commission

3 x 1.5-day meetings of the European Pharmacopoeia Commission

Briefing meetings are held for each meeting, and clearly time is required to read documents and to prepare ahead of each meeting.

Expert Advisory Groups (EAG) and Panels of Experts hold a maximum of 2 meetings per year, with additional remote working.

There is also a time commitment associated with conducting members’ appraisals annually, reviewing draft new and revised monographs, and with providing advice on an ad-hoc basis.


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