UN health agency publishes handbook to enhance pharmacists’ role in patient care

24 November 2006

With the pharmacist’s role evolving from that of a maker and supplier towards that of provider of services and information and ultimately of patient care, the United Nations health agency is co-sponsoring a handbook to ensure that a patient’s drug therapy is the most effective available, the safest possible and properly adhered to.

With the pharmacist’s role evolving from that of a maker and supplier towards that of provider of services and information and ultimately of patient care, the United Nations health agency is co-sponsoring a handbook to ensure that a patient’s drug therapy is the most effective available, the safest possible and properly adhered to.

“Pharmacists have an important role to play in health care, which is much more than selling medicines,” UN World Health Organization (WHO) Director of Medicines Policy and Standards Hans V. Hogerzeil said of the handbook, Developing pharmacy practice - A focus on patient care, published by his agency and the International Pharmaceutical Federation (FIP).

An ever-growing and complex range of medicines and poor adherence to prescribed medicines have forced the evolution of the pharmacist’s role into a more patient-centred approach, known as pharmaceutical care, WHO notes. Adherence to long-term therapy for chronic conditions in developed countries averages 50 per cent, with even lower rates for developing countries.

“By taking direct responsibility for individual patient’s medicine-related needs, pharmacists can make a unique contribution to the outcome of drug therapy and to their patients’ quality of life,” the handbook says in its introduction.

“The practice of pharmaceutical care is new, in contrast to what pharmacists have been doing for years. Because pharmacists often fail to assume responsibility for this care, they may not adequately document, monitor and review the care given. Accepting such responsibility is essential to the practice of pharmaceutical care,” it adds.

The number of medicines on the market has increased dramatically over the last few decades, bringing some real innovations but also considerable challenges in controlling the quality and rational use of medicines, the handbook notes.

To reach as wide an audience as possible, it will be available both in electronic form and print. The aim throughout is to make it interactive and provide suitable model responses, so that it can also be used for self-assessment. It contains a wide variety of illustrative case studies in order to meet the needs of different users.

 

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