Crucial role of pharmacists in health care

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Pharmacist
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Dr. P K Sreekumar
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THIRUVANANTHAPURAM : National Pharmacy Week is observed annually in the third week of November to recognise the vital contributions pharmacists make to everyday patient care. This week offers time to shine a light on the role of a pharmacist in dispensing optimal, safe and effective medication to all.

During the last few years, the pharmacy profession has expanded significantly in terms of professional services delivery and has been recognised as an important one in the multidisciplinary field of health care. Medicines manufactured under the expertise of a pharmacist save the life of a patient. Pharmaceutical sciences involve different strains like industrial pharmacy, clinical research, drug design, discovery and development.

A pharmacy students acquires a broad understanding of the scientific principles and techniques of the science and the ability to keep pace with developments in medicine throughout their career. They are instructed on all aspects of preparation, distribution, action, uses, principles of efficient stock-keeping, stock turnover and pricing structures. 

In these activities, the pharmacist serves as a member of a multidisciplinary team rather than in an autonomous capacity. The responsibilities of the regulatory authority are to ensure that all products conform to acceptable standards of quality, safety and efficacy. Pharmacists are also so close to patients in the community as readily accessible dispensers not only of medicines but of crucial health-related information. 

A per the discussion held at British pharmaceutical conference in 1963, a pharmacist is regarded as “an expert on drugs.” Professionally, pharmacists can be occupational specialists, industrial pharmacists researchers, teachers, managers and administrators or regulators, undertake active roles in framing health and drug policy and also contribute to pharmacy education policy.  Community pharmacists are the health professionals most accessible to the public in towns and villages across the nation. 

In addition, their professional activities also cover counselling of the general public and participation in health-promotion programmes like diabetes counselling and tobacco cessation. Community pharmacists are also taking on more of the clinical roles that have traditionally been ascribed to doctors such as the management of asthma and diabetes as well as blood pressure testing. 

Pharmacists have further progressively undertaken the additional task of ensuring the quality of the products in accordance with the National Pharmacovigilance Programme.The main activities of industrial pharmacists are in research and development, manufacture and quality assurance. The pharmacist is ideally qualified to understand and collate the diverse information required for patent and submission of authorisation concerning drug registration. His professional ethics demand a concern for the interest of patients. The inclusion of pharmacist in all levels of management in health care System promotes an upright approach within management policies. 

Pharmacists may also educate other health care professionals such as physicians or nurses about pharmacology-related issues or medication management and contribute most in the campaign to stop the inappropriate use of antibiotics and aphrodisiac drugs. Hence pharmacists are responsible for ensuring that “Right drug to right patient at the right time in the right dose through the right route in the right way.”

The writer is deputy drugs controller of Kerala. (The views expressed are his own)

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