What should ideally be the role of a pharmacist in a drug store or a hospital? Do they have an ethics code to follow? Does a pharmacist have any responsibility towards patients?
The present day role of the friendly neighbourhood pharmacist has largely remained restricted to collecting the doctor’s prescription and dispensing the drugs. Unlike in the West, where the role of the pharmacist is patient-centric, in India, pharmacists have remained in the background, offering their service at retail outlets or wholesale drug warehouses. Sector experts have pointed out that the broader role of pharmacists and better pay scales in Western countries and in neighbouring countries like Sri Lanka have played a major role in attracting talented pharmacists away from India.
In this context, a recent GoI gazette notification on ‘Pharmacy Practice Regulations-2015’ could kindle a new symbiotic relationship between a pharmacist and patients. The Pharmacy Practice Regulations-2015 has sought to widen the role of present day pharmacists, bring in a uniform ethics code, clear-cut definitions of roles and responsibilities of pharmacists towards patients. Interestingly, experts said that the new regulations could well boost the concept of community pharmacy.
“There are close to 6.5 lakh drug stores in the country but there is hardly any culture of community pharmacy. This is nothing but giving wider responsibility to pharmacists in patient care.
Today, doctors prescribe and pharmacists supply. But, ideally, this should not be the case and pharmacists should be empowered,” says Secretary General, All India Drug Controller Officer’s Federation, Ravi Uday Bhaskar.
The new pharmacy regulations empower pharmacists to go a step ahead and, in addition to giving drugs, they also can counsel patients at the time of dispensing and provide drug information to patients.
The regulations will allow a registered pharmacist to ‘review’ the patient’s medical record and also the prescriptions that are given by doctors.
“The new regulations will add a new dimension to pharmacy practice and pharmaceutical care, which has so far remained in the background.
These regulations will benefit patients because there is a code of ethics for pharmacists. Pharmacists will now be able to support patients in use of medicines besides taking part in clinical decision-making,” said president, Doctor of Pharmacy Association, Katam Sai Kumar. Experts pointed out that community pharmacy under the new regulations would enable registered pharmacists to take part in research, health awareness and promotional activities.
The pharmacist has to interact with patients, doctors and other healthcare providers, and educate patients about medicines and other line of treatment that might have been prescribed to them.
M. Sai Gopal