PESHAWAR: The Khyber Pakhtunkhwa health department has drafted the province’s first Pharmacy Services Policy, promising to ensure pharmaceutical services are safe and effective and medicines are affordable for people.

It will present the policy to the cabinet in its next meeting for mandatory approval, according to a senior official of the department.

“The policywill help augment the process of ISO certification for healthcare facilities and drug testing labs and would pave the way for integration of pharmacy services with hospitals,” he told Dawn.

The official said the department examined the proposed policy in a meeting last week, and health minister Syed Qasim Ali Shah promised to get it approved by the cabinet without delay for early enforcement to benefit patients.

Official says doctors will prescribe medicines using formulas instead of brand names

Under the proposed policy, a copy of which is available with Dawn, doctors will prescribe medicines based on formulas instead of brand names to reduce drug-related expenses and ensure proper medication use.

There are plans to establish the Drug Information and Poison Control Centre and a drug testing laboratory at the divisional level to provide guidance on poisoning or drug overdoses online or over the phone.

“A pharmacy and therapeutic committee comprising heads of medicine and surgery departments, in charges of pharmacists, and representatives of nurses will be established at each hospital to oversee medication management and use.

“It will review the process of selection and procurement of medications, overview the storage of medications in the respective institutions, and ensure safe practices in ordering, prescribing, preparation, and dispensing in addition to development and maintenance. The committee will nominate a focal person in the pharmacy staff for reporting adverse drug reactions as per the Drug Regulatory Authority of Pakistan’s guidelines,” the policy read.

Officials said the involvement of pharmacists in clinical contributions for direct patient care had increased, not only proving effective but also promising relief to hospital visitors.

They said the department wanted to promote the concepts of pharmaceutical care, the implementation of safe medication practices, the identification and curtailment of adverse drug effects and drug interactions, the minimisation of irrational prescriptions, and cost effectiveness through formulary management and active involvement in hospital rounds.

The officials said under theDRAPAct, 2012, pharmacy services meant services rendered by a pharmacist in pharmaceutical care, selection, posology, counseling, dispensing, use, administration, prescription monitoring, pharmacoepidemiology, therapeutic goods information and poison control, pharmacovigilance, pharmacoeconomics, storage, sales, procurement, forecasting, supply chain management, distribution, drug utilisation evaluation, drug utilisation review, formulary based drug utilisation, and managing therapeutic goods at all levels, including pharmacy, clinic, medical store, hospital, or medical institution.

They added that clinical pharmacists assumed responsibility and accountability for managing medication therapy in direct patient care settings, whether practicing independently or in consultation or collaboration with other healthcare professionals.

Medication errors or adverse drug events are a single aspect of clinical pharmacy services, according to them.

The officials said Agha Khan University Hospital, Shaukat Khanum Memorial Cancer Hospital and Research Centre, Shifa International Hospitals, and other leading national health organisation had utilised the services of pharmacists to establish pharmacy services, which were playing a pivotal role in ensuring outstanding health services there.

Officials said under the proposed policy, eight pharmacists would be employed in a Category A hospital, four in a Category B one, three each in TB, burns, and trauma centres, two in a Category C one, one each in Category D, district officer offices, and tehsil level facilities, and four analysts and as many chemists as well as one microbiologist at drug testing labs to be set up at the divisional level.

They said the province, which was short of pharmacists, was the first in the province to establish a separate drug directorate-general, which issued e-drug sale licences to provide online access to drug testing lab reports.

The officials said the proposed policy’s implementation will help curb counterfeit and substandard medicines.

They said currently, the province had 56 drug inspectors, only for monitoring 17,000 pharmacies.

Published in Dawn, April 14th, 2024

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