Pharmacist's Role: More than Dispensing

THE role of pharmacists is beyond procurement and supply of medicine, says Deputy Health Minister Dr Lee Boon Chye.

Dr Lee said pharmacists are now involved in the production of medicine in the pharmaceutical industry in the country, as well as in the logistics and distribution of local and imported medicinal products.

He said dispensing of medicine is also evolving, and thus dispensing of drugs in government facilities, private hospitals and community pharmacies are carried out by a pharmacist together with drug treatment services, medical safety screening and monitoring of adverse effects of drugs.

“Pharmacists are also involved in clinical activities such as the management of infectious and non-infectious disease drugs.

“They help monitor drug therapy for HIV and tuberculosis patients, the use of antibiotics and monitor drugs prescribed for diabetes, hypertension, heart disease, stroke, rheumatoid arthritis, haematology and asthma.

“Pharmacists are also involved in smoking cessation and weight loss programmes,” Dr Lee said in his speech before launching the Perak state-level World Pharmacists Day 2018 at Ipoh Parade.

The history of pharmacy services in the country, he said, started in 1951 with 20 registered pharmacists, adding that in 1957 there were only 23 registered pharmacists in the public sector.

Dr Lee however said with the rapid development in the profession, the number of registered pharmacists increased yearly. “Until March this year, there are 16,210 registered pharmacists, and out of this, 7,577 work under several divisions of the Health Ministry,” he added.

State Health deputy director (pharmacy division) Leong Weng Choy, who is also Perak Malaysian Pharmaceutical Society chairman, said pharmacists play an important role in determining the success of medication treatment received as an effort to improve a patient’s quality of life.

He said a pharmacist is involved in every aspect of managing the medication, right from the drug formulation until the dispensing of the medication to patients.

As part of the healthcare team, he said pharmacists are required to be in the forefront of all issues involving medicine, health and safety of patients.

Leong said the ultimate goal of pharmacists is to ensure optimum and rational drug therapy.

“This is done through the involvement of pharmacists in the processes associated with the use of such drugs, like providing, distributing, controlling information to those who prescribe, like doctors, and to the end users."

“The responsibility of a pharmacist is becoming increasingly important with the development of new drugs by research scientists and the current challenges faced in relation to medication,” he added.

Leong said every year, thousands of drugs are prescribed to patients and almost all of the dosage are checked first by a pharmacist whether in a hospital, health clinic or community pharmacies.

He said in a mission to empower users and to increase trust among patients, users and pharmacists, several initiatives were taken by the government and the private sector.

Among the initiatives are “Recognise Your Medication” by the Health Ministry which focuses on enhancing awareness of the use of drugs rationally.

Besides that, Leong said the society has also produced posters, videos and pamphlets on the prescription rights, which could be used by pharmacists as a guide in educating patients.

/theSTAR  09-10-2018

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