New research environments lead the way to better use of pharmaceutical drugs


The Swedish cityscape is increasingly dominated by pharmacies and advertisements for online doctors. Access and diversity or a playground for entrepreneurs – opinions differ, but what does science say? Uppsala University is currently investing in research environments in Social pharmacy and Pharmacoepidemiology to help find the right path for the future.

Björn Wettermark and Sofia Kälvemark Sporrong, Uppsala University
Björn Wettermark ,Sofia Kälvemark Sporrong and Hossein Hajiebrahimi, Uppsala University

Making patients take their drugs correctly is one of healthcare's most important challenges. Still, studies show that almost every fourth customer interaction at the pharmacies' counters for prescription drugs completely lack pharmaceutical information. In addition, e-commerce with pharmaceutical drugs is growing fast, further increasing society's need for guidance to choose the right path for the future. To contribute to the knowledge required, the Faculty of Pharmacy is investing in two new research environments that are currently in development.

“After eight years at the University of Copenhagen, the time was right to return to Sweden and Uppsala. Here, research in Social pharmacy was almost dormant, and stepping from a large, interdisciplinary group to building from ground level is an interesting challenge. Here I do everything myself, which means long working days, but also that every effort is significant for the future of this subject at our faculty,” states Sofia Kälvemark Sporrong, newly recruited Professor of Social Pharmacy.

She shares the corridor at Uppsala Biomedical Center with Björn Wettermark, newly recruited Professor of Pharmacoepidemiology: a field focusing on the use of pharmaceutical drugs and its effects on the population. After their academic paths crossed for the first time in the 1990s, Björn and Sofia have continued to move in the same scientific sphere and today they describe their collaboration as constructive and solution-oriented.

Björn Wettermark, Professor of Pharmacoepidemiology
Björn Wettermark, Professor of Pharmacoepidemiology

“Working at Uppsala University with its broad research and education and a faculty whose combined competence covers the entire pharmaceutical chain is hard to beat. We have received a warm welcome, but to be fully integrated, we must make the values ​​we provide visible. So far, we have invested a lot of energy into educational initiatives, and can already see an increase in interest among students to conduct master’s and degree projects in our subjects,” says Björn Wettermark.

The fact that Uppsala University is advancing its position in patient and community focused domains of pharmacy is also strengthening interactions with authorities and policymakers: Björn Wettermark is currently representing the University in Region Uppsala's interdisciplinary council on covid-19, and has in collaboration with the Swedish Medical Products Agency initiated an effort to spread knowledge on the impact of drugs on our environment. Sofia is in turn engaged in an advisory expert group for the Swedish Dental and Pharmaceutical Benefits Agency.

Sofia Kälvemark Sporrong, Professor of Social Pharmacy
Sofia Kälvemark Sporrong, Professor of Social Pharmacy

“As researchers, we are responsible to bring the results of our work into society. And in a country whose politicians are very perceptive to inquiries, there is great scope to influence via knowledge. But to get there, we must contribute both to identifying where evidence-based policies are needed and by communicating our results clearly and in good time before decisions are made,” states Sofia Kälvemark Sporrong who in 2019 received Rune Lönngren's award for her importance to spread knowledge about the role of pharmacies and pharmacists in accurate drug use.

The new research environments also provide increased presence in many of the field's international and Swedish knowledge consortia. Since 2021, Björn Wettermark holds a central position in COST ENABLE, a four-year EU project where experts in 39 countries map and implement digital technologies in order to increase compliance during drug treatments. In parallel, he is involved in the Nordic collaboration COHERENCE and Swedish database SCIFI-PEARL, both with a scientific focus on Covid-19.

“As a new environment, it is important to be visible and make contacts along a broad front. In parallel, we have been recruited as part of a long-term investment, with a primary goal to establish and equip firm operations that will attract talents and add lasting value to the field of pharmacy. In Uppsala, there is a solid foundation to build on, we have experienced a great start and will soon be ready to take off,” says Björn Wettermark.



Sofia Kälvemark Sporrong, Professor of Social PharmacySofia Kälvemark Sporrong
Professor of Social Pharmacy

Björn Wettermark, Professor of PharmacoepidemiologyBjörn Wettermark
Professor of Pharmacoepidemiology

text: Magnus Alsne, photo: Mikael Wallerstedt

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Last modified: 2022-11-08