Pharmacists: we’re ready

medicines meds shortages prescription rx

Australian pharmacists say they’re ready to take on a wider range of deprescribed medicines

Australian pharmacists believe the profession is ready to “safely and effectively manage” a wider range of non-prescription medicines, new research has revealed.

A national online survey of pharmacists, conducted by researchers from Griffith University, Queensland, received 235 responses from a spectrum of pharmacists (community, hospital, academia, consultant).

More than two thirds of respondents (70.66%) said they received daily or weekly requests for non-prescription access to prescription medicines. 

A similar amount (71.7%) agreed that the “Australian pharmacy profession is ready for further medicines reclassification, guided by patient safety, harm minimisation and medication continuance”.

However, despite enthusiasm from pharmacists, the study authors said Australia had fallen behind countries such as the United Kingdom and New Zealand in reclassifying medicines.

“Pharmacists are clearly ready for greater reclassification, yet Australia appears to have lost momentum when compared to other nations in the reclassification of medicines,” said the authors.

“The pharmacists in this study believed their profession has the capacity to safely and effectively manage a wider range of non-prescription medicines to enhance medicines access.”

The most prominent barrier to further medicine reclassification identified by respondents was opposition from other healthcare professionals. Over 90% listed this as the key barrier.

Other reasons identified included the risk averseness of the medicines scheduling committee, complexity of the applications process and lack of access to patient medical records.  

Antibiotics were the drug class most frequently proposed for reclassification by survey respondents. Some also supported the concept of medication continuance without a new prescription for established medication regimens.

Only 3% identified erectile dysfunction drugs as having been requested by consumers and as candidates for reclassification.

Psychotropic drugs and cardiovascular drugs were those most commonly listed as not suitable for down-scheduling.

“Pharmacists’ recommendations for future reclassification were context-specific and underpinned by safety and quality considerations,” the authors said. 

“Given the recent creation of new regulatory structures intended to promote reclassification, this study provides timely insights for Australian policy makers,” they concluded.

 The study was published in the International Journal of Pharmacy Practice

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