Great ideas at pharmacists’ conference but they will be even better if implemented
Some excellent ideas were raised at the annual conference of the Fiji Pharmaceutical Society. With the plethora of drugs flooding the market, it is important that the consumers are well informed about the products sold by pharmacies. A large amount of drugs is also sold online. People have a legitimate concern about which drugs are safe to take. This often leads to fear about generic drugs which are as effective as the branded and expensive drugs. The society president, Renshika Sen, highlighted these issues at their conference. There are a lot of misconceptions about drugs. Some patients are used to drugs prescribed by their doctors. But when the same drugs with different branding are introduced by pharmacies, they naturally take a step back and think twice before they make up their mind to buy the new products. More generic brands are entering the market and some are cheaper. Because they are cheaper, it does not necessarily mean that they are inferior. The prices are dictated by the competition in the market place and the pharmaceutical industry is big business. Ms Sen says there could be hundreds of companies making the same thing with the same quality standard and they want people to realise that the medication is available. Another great suggestion came from the Ministry of Health, Specialist Physician, Dr Gyaneshwar Rao. He recommends that doctors and pharmacists should meet together to improve their services to patients. Dr Rao said it was about time that doctors and pharmacists hosted meetings together, and involve each other in the association meetings as well. The relationship between doctors and pharmacists is important. They should work closely together in consultation to ensure that patients or consumers get the best service. Because we are all humans, mistakes can happen. The risks of this happening can be reduced if the doctors and pharmacists are regularly in contact. Consultation is the key. Pharmacists can suggest to doctors whether prescriptions should be reviewed or changed if they are not working on patients. Dr Rao said regular meetings were needed in order to understand patient’s health and medicinal issues. Dr Rao used the treatment of epilepsy as an example. He said most patients in Fiji had a habit of using multiple drugs if the first one did not work for them. He said this should not be the case and therefore the pharmacists must be careful with the dosage prescription of their customers always. Dr Rao said the customers should be sent back to the doctors for a diagnosis again if they complained that certain prescribed medicine did not work for them. This was a very productive conference for the pharmacists because of the ideas discussed. What is important now is the follow-up and implementation.