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The importance of patient and public contributors is recognised as key to the success of the study.

An international research team led by Professor Chris Butler have won the the Royal College of General Practitioners Research Paper of the Year Award, which was announced yesterday by the college at an online event. 

The research, with colleagues from Cardiff University, King's College, London and from universities in Norway, Spain and the Netherlands, finds that a simple finger prick blood test can reduce antibiotic use in patients with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). The research was funded by the National Institute for Health Research.

Commenting on the award, Professor Butler highlighted the importance of the public contributors to the success of the project, in particular the late Margaret Barnard: “Margaret made a wonderful contribution to the study, but sadly died from lung cancer during the course of the trial so was not alive to see the results or share in the recognition that this award brings. We want to recognise not only her contribution as an individual, but the importance of PPI in the design and delivery of high-quality, clinically facing, primary care research.”

Professor Butler and colleagues have donated the prize money to the British Lung Foundation in memory of Margaret Barnard.

Published in the New England Journal of Medicine, the "PACE" study demonstrated that using a c-reactive protein (CRP) finger-prick blood test resulted in 20% fewer people using antibiotics for COPD flare-ups. There were no negative effects on patient recovery and wellbeing during the first two weeks following GP consultation. The research shows that safely reducing the use of antibiotics in this way may help in the battle against antibiotic resistance. 

The study was supported by Oxford University's Primary Care Clinical Trials Unit.

The RCGP Research Paper of the Year award is presented each year across six categories to recognise an individual or group of researchers who have undertaken and published an exceptional piece of research relating to general practice or primary care.

Further information:

C-Reactive Protein Testing to Guide Antibiotic Prescribing for COPD Exacerbations
Christopher C. Butler, David Gillespie, Patrick White, Janine Bates et al, N Engl J Med 2019; 381:111-120,
DOI: 10.1056/NEJMoa1803185

Read a summary of the PACE study here


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