Pharmacists must be vigilant to ensure drugs safety

Drugs on a shopping trolley. [File, Standard]
Pharmacists generally enjoy a high ranking when members of the public are asked to rate the most trusted professions.

While it is a good thing that the pharmacy profession appears to be trustworthy, it is not clear whether the public fully appreciates what pharmacists can do.

They form an integral part of the patient’s “circle of trust”. This circle is made up of doctors, nurses, pharmacists, the pharmaceutical industry and other stakeholders who work together to make the patient feel better.

Generations of pharmacists had been taught that we are drug experts, and we still are in today’s healthcare systems.

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Pharmacists are involved in all processes medicines go through from the point of raw materials, manufacturing, quality control and assurance, distribution, dispensing to the patient, post-marketing surveillance, pharmacovigilance, policy-making and formulation of treatment guidelines.

On September 25 and the whole of this week, the International Federation of Pharmacists (FIP) encourages us to organise activities that promote and advocate the role of the pharmacist in improving health in every corner of the world.

The theme of this year’s World Pharmacist Day “Safe and effective medicines for all”. It aims to promote pharmacists’ crucial role in safeguarding patient safety through improving medicine use and reducing medication error.

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Pharmacists should be at the forefront promoting and ensuring the safe and rational use of drugs because they are an important link between the patient and other healthcare professionals.

High standards

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They interact with patients both in hospital and community pharmacies.

In many cases, they are the first contact with patients because they are easily accessible.

They are well trusted by the community and must endeavour to uphold high standards, professionalism, and integrity to maintain the faith that patients have in them.

Pharmacists should be keen to ensure that they dispense the correct drug for the appropriate indication and in the correct dose.

They should also give the patient appropriate information and counseling on drug use including but not limited to its safety and importance of adhering to the drug as has been prescribed.

The pharmacist must also take the lead in combating counterfeit and substandard drugs as these pose a serious threat to patient’s safety.

GSK is proud to be in the patient’s circle of trust. One of our core values is patient focus and we strive to do the right thing for the patient always.

Pharmacovigilance

This is demonstrated by the quality of our medicines, compliance to both international and local laws governing the promotion of medicines, participation in pharmacovigilance, our pipeline for innovative medicines and partnership with other stakeholders in the circle of trust.

At GSK we also believe in antibiotic stewardship as part of sustaining the circle of trust with patients and stakeholders. We also believe that the role of pharmacists is as guardians of antimicrobial stewardship.

With the rise of antimicrobial resistance, WHO postulated that where we are headed “A post-antibiotic era—in which common infections and minor injuries can kill—is a real possibility for the 21st century.

Key causes contributing to antimicrobial resistance include high volume of antibiotic use and sub-therapeutic use of antibiotics and in both cases, the pharmacist is the key person who can educate patients about appropriate antibiotic use.

We continuously are finding ways of supporting pharmacists to drive this agenda and we will be holding the first national digital education forum with pharmacists countrywide.

Our mission which is to make people do more, feel better and live longer, is aligned to the circle of trust and GSK will continue partnering with pharmacists to drive the agenda of safe and effective medicines for all.

Pharmacists should continue being vigilant, the source for medicines from trusted suppliers, observe recommended transport and storage conditions, have qualified personnel dispensing and interacting with patients and always have the patient’s best interests at heart.

A patient who is well educated and informed on the do’s and don’ts of his medication has a high chance of adhering and getting maximum benefits and better therapeutic outcomes.

Dr Allela, BPharm, works at the GlaxoSmithKline.

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PharmacistsDrugs safetyChemistsMinistry of Health