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Pharmacists across the world team up to initiate cancer screening, drug safety and new medicines counselling

Nandita Vijay, Bengaluru
Wednesday, September 13, 2017, 08:00 Hrs  [IST]

Pharmacists across the world have now chipped in their expertise to move beyond drug dispensing and initiate cancer screening, drug safety and new medicines counselling. The move strengthens the promotion of community pharmacists. The effort which was largely driven by global pharmacy associations from the developed world has moved  from product centric to patient centric.

“The work we pharmacists do remains largely invisible to the eyes of patients, policy makers and even other healthcare professionals. It is imperative that we continue to show the positive impact pharmacists have in the healthcare system”, said Gerben Klein Nulent, chairman of the Royal Dutch Pharmacists Association.

At the ongoing 77th World Congress of the International Pharmaceutical Federation (FIP), being held at Seoul from September 10-14, 2017, a campaign that led to a long-term pharmacy service screening people for colorectal cancer was declared the winner of this year’s FIP Health Promotion Campaign Award.

PharmaSuisse, the Swiss pharmacy association responsible for the “No to colorectal cancer” campaign, shared the award with the Korean Pharmaceutical Association (KPA) for a campaign on safe drug use. FIP’s other professional association award, for best Pharmacy Practice Improvement Programme, went to the Royal Dutch Pharmacists Association (KNMP) for its campaign “The first time”, which raised awareness about the value of the counselling provided by community pharmacists to patients prescribed a new medicine.

The Swiss campaign saw almost half of the country’s pharmacists signing up to offer the screening service in collaboration with doctors, screening specifically people between 50 and 75 years of age who had not had a colonoscopy within the past 10 years. Based on a questionnaire, pharmacists evaluated a person’s risk factors for colorectal cancer, which provided the criteria for direct referral to a doctor or for a stool test. Those who took a stool test received their results from the pharmacist. Those with positive results were referred and those with negative results were given lifestyle advice and registered for another screening in two years’ time. As a result of the six-week campaign, it is estimated that 58 cases of cancer and 368 cases of advanced adenoma were detected. Moreover, more than 600 pharmacies implemented the service on a daily basis and are ready to provide the second screening. PharmaSuisse addressed the cost-efficiency of this service as part of its work, showing that the costs of treatments saved completely compensated the cost of screening.

“The award is a strong recognition of our huge investment to implement new services in pharmacy. It is important that pharmacists are recognised as key partners also in the topic of prevention,” said Martine Ruggli, head of department, interprofessional collaboration, PharmaSuisse.

The  Korean campaign which bagged the second prize  promoted  public health through providing education on the responsible use of medicines. Here  pharmacists were trained to become educators, targeting a wide range of people, including socially vulnerable groups, including children’s fairs and rural areas, and through varied channels, for example, a guidebook, a website and a competition. Different areas of drug safety were addressed.

“The campaign has made a great contribution. The ultimate goal is to expand the pharmacist’s role so that people can recognise the pharmacist as an advocate of health promotion,” said Lee Ae Hyung, director of appropriate drug use, Korean Pharmaceutical Association.

The Dutch campaign by  KNMP at the request of the Dutch government, not only succeeded in promoting a service provided by pharmacists but also helped to create acceptance that they should be paid for this service.


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