Posted by: Ranveer Bassey5 DEC 2012
The pharmaceutical industry createsproducts that help people live longer and better lives. So why is it hated? How have the companies it compromises destroyedthe goodwill?
Ben Goldacre explains in his book‘Bad Pharma'. He sits you on hisgrandfatherly lap and tells you tales about the big, bad pharmaceutical world. His arguments are supported by high-quality evidencewhere available. You'd expect nothingless from Goldacre.
I won't cover old ground, withthe content of the book already discussed in a review. What I find interesting is how littlepharmacists are mentioned. The onlymention we get is in relation to pharmacists sharing confidential informationabout patients on certain drugs with reps. Goldacre suggests there should be a law to stop this, but I think italready exists as the Data Protection Act.
The products of thepharmaceutical industry are our forte. We have intimate knowledge of, and keep up-to-date with, the everchanging evidence base for drugs. We aretrained how to critically appraise evidence. We are placed at the critical juncture betweenprescriber and patient, between treatment decision and treatment enactment.
These qualities put pharmacists inan excellent position to challenge inappropriate prescribing. I mean going beyond a clinical check wherethe primary aim is to confirm treatment isn't immediately dangerous. Checks should also include whether prescribingfollows clinical guidelines, is supported by the evidence base and hasn't been unjustifiablyinfluenced by the drug rep that has been in the area.
I know it's not easy. The lack of access to patient records, the everincreasing dispensing workload and the fact that GPs hold the veto all posesignificant challenges. At least we canposition ourselves as willing to take on the role. Perhaps the role could be formalised in a futurepharmacy contract.
The effort is worth it. As Goldacre frequently reminds readers, the consequenceof bad prescribing is ultimately harm to patients.