Fakes focus needs ‘full inclusion’ of pharmacists

Curriculum guide to support educators in helping pharmacists better prevent substandard or falsified medicines and medical products from reaching patients now available

The guide has been published by the International Pharmaceutical Federation (FIP) in partnership with the World Health Organization (WHO).

In 2017, the WHO estimated that one in 10 medicines in low- and middle-income countries was SF, risking harm to people and reducing the quality of patient care.

“Healthcare professionals are key in detecting and reporting poor quality or fake medical products that have penetrated supply chains, as well as educating and advising patients who have been exposed to them,” said Dominique Jordan, FIP president.

“However, they cite a variety of barriers to reporting, including a lack of awareness and overcomplicated reporting systems.

“A solution proposed by the WHO was the production of a modular educational curriculum to improve reporting and interventions, and FIP is honoured to have taken on the challenge to develop this for future pharmacists.”

The curriculum guide is a tool for education on SF medical products, which can be adapted to the needs of individual training institutions.

It contains a competency framework and practical tips and is supplemented with modules that align with the WHO prevention-detection-response strategy so that pharmacists know how to: identify medicines at high-risk of being SF; prevent these products reaching the supply chain and, if they have, detect them and report them to appropriate regulatory authorities; and intervene to prevent patient harm.

These materials, which offer pharmacy educators teaching resources and practical guidance, were developed with the support of the European Commission, and in collaboration with the International Conference of French-Speaking Chambers of Pharmacists, the Commonwealth Pharmacists Association and five universities in sub-Saharan Africa, a region that is particularly vulnerable to these products.

“SF medical products are a constant, pervasive and unacceptable public health threat,” said Pernette Bourdillon-Esteve, team lead (a.i.) Incidents and Substandard/Falsified Medical Products, WHO. 

“The WHO’s holistic strategy of prevention, detection and response to SF medical products requires full inclusion of pharmacists.

“The unique position of pharmacists as guardians of the supply chain’s integrity allows them to safeguard the quality and safety of medical products before distribution and their vigilance is indispensable.

“However, too few pharmacists receive formal training on this issue during or after education. This project addresses the training gap in teaching institutions and advances the essential role of pharmacists.”

Mr Jordan added, “This resource is designed to increase and improve both education and awareness levels of pharmacists on SF medical products.

“We believe that it will be of use not only for our existing collaborators, but also for more countries in the African region and beyond.”

The guide can be accessed here.

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