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Who needs a pharmacist anyway?!

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It has been announced in the news recently that Pfizer is going to sell one of its most popular products, Viagra, online. The main reason for this is to stop people buying counterfeit, and therefore potentially dangerous, medicines at fake online pharmacies. This is good news for patient safety, combating illegal drug companies and maintaining the drug company’s reputation. Unfortunately, this will undermine the role of the pharmacist especially if it is successful, then other drug companies are likely to follow suit. 


Currently there are legitimate online pharmacies that allow people to buy medicines online with a prescription. The process usually starts with an online questionnaire and the responses are checked by a doctor who will prescribe the medicine required. But it doesn’t have to be collected at a pharmacy and can be mailed straight to the patient. So will these new online services lessen the role of a pharmacist?


There have been talks about capping the number of pharmacy graduates as there soon may be too many graduates and not enough pharmacist positions. And perhaps the fact that some prescription-only medicines can be bought online without the intervention of a pharmacist may just be an indication of the fact that the role of the pharmacist is actually changing once again. In fact, I believe that the role of the pharmacist is not done expanding and I have heard some pharmacists lecture at university about what they do. There are some niche roles for pharmacists to fill and some hospital pharmacists spoke of opening counselling clinics for various illnesses that require long-term management. This is a good example of where pharmacists can use both their knowledge of drugs, interactions and pharmaceutical care. Another spoke about becoming a pharmacist in mental health where nurses were initially more involved. So even though technology and the internet may change the way some medicines are handled, it may allow pharmacists into other areas of medicine and utilise more of their skills.


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