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New tool to enhance role of pharmacists in health care

The traditional role of pharmacists is to manufacture and supply medicines. More recently, pharmacists have been faced with increasing health demands: an ever-growing and complex range of medicines, and poor adherence to prescribed medicines, have forced the evolution of the pharmacist’s role into a more patient centred approach (known as pharmaceutical care). Adherence to long-term therapy for chronic conditions in developed countries averages 50%, with even lower rates for developing countries.

To address this need, the World Health Organization (WHO) and the International Pharmaceutical Federation (FIP) are publishing the first edition of a handbook on Developing pharmacy practice - A focus on patient care. "Pharmacists have an important role to play in health care, which is much more than selling medicines," said Dr Hans V. Hogerzeil, WHO Director of Medicines Policy and Standards.

The role of the pharmacist is summarized through the WHO/FIP seven-star concept in which a pharmacist is described as a caregiver, communicator, decision-maker, teacher, lifelong learner, leader and manager. For the purpose of this handbook, the function of researcher has been added.

The pharmacist is an integral member of the health care team and assumes varied functions ranging from the procurement and supply of medicines to pharmaceutical care services, helping to ensure the best treatment for patients. The pharmaceutical care process involves establishing a relationship between the patient and the pharmacist, developing an evidence-based care plan for medicine therapy and follow-up on the patient's expected health outcome.

The handbook defines good pharmacy practice and presents a step-wise approach to pharmaceutical care within a general practice environment anywhere in the world.

Founded on the principles of the ‘seven-star pharmacist’, this interactive handbook provides practical examples and care models so that it can be used for self-directed learning. It contains a wide variety of illustrative case studies to meet the needs of different users. It is designed to guide learners towards specific educational outcomes, and enable them to undertake tasks which require a combination of knowledge, skills and attitudes.

"Pharmaceutical care delivered by pharmacists seeks to optimize patient outcomes and is key to the effective, rational and safe use of medicines. This handbook serves as a timely and accessible resource for pharmacists, educators and students worldwide to develop patient-centred services and skills to meet local patient needs," said Ton Hoek, General Secretary and CEO of the International Pharmaceutical Federation.

Developing pharmacy practice - A focus on patient care is designed to meet the changing needs of the pharmacist, setting out a new paradigm for pharmacy practice. The handbook is written for pharmacists, educators and students all over the world in all health care settings. To reach as wide an audience as possible the handbook is available in English and French will be available soon in both electronic and print formats.

For further information please contact:

Marthe Everard
Department of Medicines Policy and Standards, WHO
Telephone: +41 22 791 3835

Myriah Lesko, FIP
Telephone: +31 70 302 1987

Charlotte Wiback
Communication & Advocacy Officer, WHO
Telephone: + 41 22 791 1346