Pharmacists should collaborate with Regulatory Agencies to improve pharmacy services and regulatory compliance

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 Pharmacists should collaborate with Regulatory Agencies to improve pharmacy services
and regulatory compliance

Pharmacists also need to change, improve their Attitudes,
Behaviour and Communication Skills to get recognition
and become important member of Healthcare Team

KARACHI: In the recent issue of our sister publication Pakistan Journal of Medical Sciences Vol. 32 No.5 September-October 2016 issue we published a study by Dr. Shaukat Muttaqi and colleagues on Quality of Pharmacy Services and Regulatory Compliance which was supplemented with an Editorial on the same subject. This was picked up by the Print and electronic media which has tried to highlight some of the negative issues from this report. The media in general always prefers to pick up negative issues but the objective of publishing this excellent study was to highlight the poor quality of pharmacy service in Pakistan and the need to take effective measures for its improvement. This is only possible if the pharmacists collaborate with the regulatory agencies and it also needs a continued struggle which may gradually lead to improvement in pharmacy services.

As per this study out of one thousand three drug stores which the study team visited excluding those located within the public healthcare facilities, only  forty one which is  just 4% were complying with the regulatory requirements. Only 12% had qualified persons and out of those just 33% had qualified pharmacists. Only four hundred out of 1003 had displayed drug sales license of which 282 had expired licenses. Ninety four drug stores were selling vaccines without proper refrigerator and only 11.7% of those had the power backup for the refrigerator. Moreover, only 403 drug stores were protected from the direct sunlight and just 54 which is 5.4% had air-conditioning at the premises. Hence, there is every possibility that the drugs might lose their potency due to poor storage facilities.

There is no denying the fact that it is a failure of the drug regulatory agencies in general and Drug Inspectors in particular but it won’t serve any useful purpose if the pharmacists adopt a confrontational attitude. Since the main objective is patient safety, all efforts should be made to improve quality of pharmacy services. It is not possible for the government to establish chain of drug stores all over the country and like many other countries, private sector will remain an important player in pharmacy services. Hence, all these issues need to be discussed at proper forums, highlighted with an objective to initiate some effective measures while at the same time working to improve the functioning of the drug regulatory agencies. One hopes that they will wake up. If this is the situation in a city like Karachi, what will be the situation in small towns and cities and in rural areas in particular is not at all difficult to imagine. Pharmacists needs to come up with a short term and long term plans to improve pharmacy services in the country.

Healthcare is a multidisciplinary team work and pharmacists are considered an important member of this healthcare team. However, their role has not yet been fully recognized in Pakistan and they do not get the respect which they deserve for which the pharmacists themselves have to be blamed to some extent. They lack unity, sincere and committed leadership and professional approach. They need to change their Attitude, Behaviour and improve upon their Communication Skills. Once they do that, the medical profession in particular and the society in general will start recognizing them and they will also earn due respect. Already some of the pharmacists who are well qualified, experienced and competent are recognized as professionals. They not only get due respect in healthcare facilities and regulatory agencies but they also serve on various important committees in Government as well as medical institutions. Hospital Pharmacy has started only a few years ago and a lot needs to be done to establish and promote community pharmacy which provides quality service.

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