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Australian Journal of Pharmacy : February 2005
pdl HEissue of how pharmacy deals with products containing pseudoeph- edrine has once again surfaced, and this time there is the very real threat that fur- ther restrictions will be placed on the abil- ity of pharmacists to supply this reasonably safe and very efficacious drug. Pharmacy’s challenge now is to demonstrate in a short time that it can meet the demands placed on them by the police and various other drugs and poisons bodies. Whether the demands represent a fair trade-off between the benefit of reducing levels of the illicit manufacture of ‘speed’ and the potential cost to the health of cus- tomers is no longer the point. Despite the very real efforts of so many pharmacists to remain alert for people seeking these products without a discernable therapeu- tic need, obviously the actions (or lack of them) of a few pharmacies continue to let down the rest of the profession. I have no doubt that very few knowingly assist, or even turn a blind eye to the efforts of these ‘speed’ runners. But the problem remains and it is because not everyone follows the protocols that have been set. In many ways it mirrors the broader issue of how pharmacies manage the sup- ply process for pharmacy and pharmacist- only medicines (PMs and POMs). Every- one who works in a pharmacy knows that there are specific protocols on how to sup- ply PMs and POMs, yet the danger remains alive that community pharmacy will lose them. Remember Rhonda Galbally and her review of the drugs, poisons and con- trolled substances? Pharmacy was given time to demonstrate that its counselling and information support for these medi- cines justified the monopoly it has in their supply. This time passed last year and since then pharmacy has had a roasting from a report in the Australian Consumer Association’s Choice magazine about inad- equate counselling interventions. I wait with a degree of trepidation for the next move in the Galbally Review process pdl risk management news Pharmaceutical Defence Limited chairman John Coppock Implementation is king T because I know that John Corbett and his team from Woolworths are waiting, ready to be given the green light. Indeed there was a report in the NSWGuild Bulletin that Woolworths were now training staff on the supply of PMs. Pharmacy is certainly good at devising professional standards and protocols —the Pharmaceutical Society of Aus- tralia has done a fine job formulating them—but that means nought if they’re not implemented. In this, like many cases in life, implementation is king. If we fail to win support for pharmacy’s ability to add value to these medicines, then much of this business will be lost to pharmacy Pharmacists and especially pharmacy owners must remember that they are responsible for the way in which these products are managed within pharma- cies. They cannot blame errors on a way- ward assistant nor can they plead any degree of ignorance about the protocols. Pharmacists and assistants have all the protocols and training required to meet the demands and responsibilities placed on them. Courts of law and pharmacy boards will recognise this—pleading igno- rance is the quick way to an adverse find- ing. We need, however, to be more vigi- lant as a profession on how we meet these professional responsibilities because some are still lagging well behind competent practice, let alone best practice. For this reason I welcomed news from 74 ? THE AUSTRALIAN JOURNAL OF PHARMACY VOL.86 FEBRUARY 2005 the Council of Pharmacy Registering Authorities (COPRA) (see AJP January 2005, p5) that foreshadowed greater interest in the role and competence of non-pharmacist staff in the delivery of pharmacy services. In taking a greater interest in the performance of pharmacy assistants, the boards, however, will not look to take action against assistants— that’s not in their purview. They will, however, take action against pharmacists who do not effectively supervise assistants. That’s the stick approach and it’s a nec- essary part of the makeup of any profes- sion that takes responsibility for the actions of its members. We all need to know that punitive action is not far away when we fail to meet our professional obligations and responsibility to the pub- lic. The carrot is already with us. This is the hundreds of millions of dollars worth of business that pharmacy has a monop- oly over. If we fail to win support for phar- macy’s ability to add value to these med- icines, then much of this business will be lost to pharmacy. So it was great to see the arrival of a kit sent jointly by the Guild and the PSA called the Quality Use of Pharmacy Med- icines and Pharmacist-Only Medicines Initiative. The kit contains materials and terrific in-store tools to ensure that phar- macy performs at the highest level and meets all public safety and quality use of medicines requirements when supplying PMs and POMs. I urge all readers to take a close look at the material and make effective use of the tools because we can- not underestimate the importance of how the profession handles this challenge. Much of the future we wish for pharmacy may depend on it and we know there are numerous bodies watching closely. We must remember that pharmacy receives a number of privileges under pharmacy legislation. But these are offset by professional responsibilities and oblig- ations that extend to the whole of phar- macy. ¦