Profession’s sustainability ‘requires economic freedom’.

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Pharmacists need freedom to operate professionally without pressure, says FIP’s outgoing president

Dr Carmen Peña, President of the International Pharmaceutical Federation (FIP), said in opening the 78th World Congress of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences in Glasgow that FIP’s vision and mission need a series of sustainability goals to be set.

Pharmacists must take immediate action on the issue, she says.

The goals pertain to access to and responsible use of medicines, viability of the pharmacy profession and environmental considerations, she said.

As the profession closest to patients, and to people in general, pharmacists have a great opportunity to help meet the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals in terms of health and social well-being, she told the Congress.

Sustainability is one of three focus areas in Dr Peña’s “Two times two plan” for pharmacy, which she described at the start of her presidency in 2014.

Dr Peña said that sustainability of the pharmacy profession requires pharmacists having the freedom to operate without pressure in their professional work.

“And it requires economic freedom in which remuneration policies do not limit the capacity of pharmacists to carry out their profession.”

She added that FIP firmly believes in the urgent need to invest in a fully qualified pharmacy workforce in sufficient quantity and quality to meet every need regarding the health of populations around the world.

She said that in many parts of the world, access to medicines remains a distant goal.

Dr Carmen Peña
Dr Carmen Peña.

This lack of access can have devastating consequences, she told delegates, including the real and growing risk of counterfeit medicines.

“The greatest guarantee of sustainability in access to and responsible use of medicines resides in policies that lay down global, national and regional regulations which ensure that the whole medicines chain, from research to destruction, is supervised and safeguarded by pharmacy workers,” Dr Peña said.

To keep this chain intact when crossing borders, there should also be a move towards promoting policies and laws that guarantee international collaboration in equal access to quality medicines.

“We are not talking about charity, we are talking about justice,” she told delegates.

As for the environment, Dr Peña said that pharmacists’ goal should be to minimise the impact of medicines.

“Our responsibility certainly does not end with their dispensing,” she said.

Pharmacists are responsible for the complete life-cycle of medicines from research, production, distribution, safeguarding, conservation and dispensing to their collection and the management of waste.

“We should put an end to the perception that environmental measures are an obstacle and consider them an opportunity to grow and to innovate,” Dr Peña said, “because if we are a part of the problem, we must also be a part of the solution.”

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  1. Daniel Hackett

    What a load of nonsense. What is it saying, that pharmacists cannot survive unless they have complete economic freedom? What does that even mean? They can’t charge what they like or competitors will undercut them. Then it goes on about international laws, justice, the UN, sustainability goals, whatever they are, and the environment. Pharmacists apparently are responsible for research and development. I never knew. I thought they just sold drugs and stuff. Seriously, this makes absolutely zero sense.

    • Felix Yum

      I believe what Dr Pena is saying is geared towards those working in developing countries where there are actually no laws and/or governing bodies in place to ensure sustainable access, quality control, harm minimisation etc. If you take a brief look at the UN sustainable development goals (which are like a minimum standard that ideally all countries will meet) for health, a lot of that is about preventing mortality and disease transmission. We are lucky in Australia compared to others where vaccine-preventable diseases have still not been eradicated and women do not even have access to birth control.
      In terms of economic freedom, I think she is referring to public funding (‘cos when is the health sector ever adequately funded?) for delivering essential services, and perhaps freedom to spend funds on the areas that they want/need. We kind of have the drug part covered via the PBS.

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