Last Updated on September 27, 2021 by The Health Master
“Pharmacy: Always trusted for your health” is the theme of World Pharmacists Day on 25th September. Trust is a vital element of the healthcare ecosystem.
Medical professionals, including Pharmacists, are viewed as one of the most trusted professions and are uniquely placed to provide support and advice to the public compared with other healthcare professionals and therefore in a better position to facilitate consumer awareness.
Patients trust that their physicians, nurses, pharmacists, brands, and their health care providers and hope that they will work in their best interests to achieve optimal health outcomes.
During the C-19 pandemic, healthcare professionals’ including pharmacists’ dedication and tireless efforts are commendable. Working at the very focal point in medicine distribution, closely dealing with patients either directly or indirectly, they acted as an extension of the healthcare system.
However, the increasing incidents of sub-standard, spurious, falsely labelled, falsified, and counterfeit (SSFFC) medical products surfacing across the country, has shaken consumer trust, and brought important aspects such as ‘Patient Safety’ under the scanner and rightly so.
Trust is a fundamental characteristic of health care and in the current scenario, it has become more significant. With an increase in counterfeiting activity, the role of healthcare professionals including Pharmacists becomes more vital in preventing (SSFFC) medical products from reaching patients. It is high time, and all stakeholders must come together.
Health authorities across various countries are recognizing the value of community pharmacists in the healthcare system due to their availability and accessibility to the public. Globally, various Pharmacists Associations e.g., International Pharmaceutical Federation (FIP), Commonwealth Pharmacist Association (CPA) are collaborating with their country’s national drug regulatory authorities in combating falsified medicines.
In India, the All India Organisation of Chemists and Druggists (AIOCD), represents more than 8.5 lakh chemists. Apart from this, more than 8000+ Pradhan Mantri Janaushadhi Kendras (PMJYK) are currently functional in India. Apollo which has the largest branded pharmacy network has over 3000+ plus outlets in key locations.
As policymakers and brands are enhancing consumer awareness measures, all these can play an important role in keeping the supply chain clean. They are the ones who handle medication numerous times a day.
A continued immersive awareness and education program is crucial for them so that they can be vigilant towards the presence of a counterfeit product and be informed of the protocol if they come across a fraudulent product.
Information and reminder of a few simple but crucial tips can make a huge difference. Many brands use authentication solutions on their packaging. Sometimes a close and careful look reveals the authenticity.
One look at the informative message on the pack might help in identifying a genuine product. Investing just a few seconds to check the authentication of a product quickly with a mobile or web-based application for the products where brands have used a physical and digital authentication solution can be lifesaving.
For example, to ensure if the tamper-evident seal is intact, the presence of anti-counterfeiting features such as security hologram or holographic blister foils, colour-changing ink, or the unique code printed on medicine blister packing or carton.
Pharmacists are amongst the few professionals who are well versed and familiar with most medicine packaging. They can be encouraged to make the consumers aware of the authentication features on the medicine packaging and participating in the authentication process. This calls for a little more of their time but goes a long way and is very effective in minimizing the risk of falsified medicines in systems to a large extent.
Active participation, ethical conduct, and vigilance by pharmacists are one of the best bets for the world & India to have better patient safety.
Pharmacists with their services can safeguard the effectiveness of the healthcare system. Let’s make today the first day for building a better future.
Nakul Pasricha,President, ASPA
(DISCLAIMER: The views expressed are solely of the author and The Health Master does not necessarily subscribe to it. The Health Master shall not be responsible for any damage caused to any person/organisation directly or indirectly.)
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