Pharmacists’ lead role in safety of medicines

Pharmacists have demonstrated their commitment to making medicines in Australia safe and fit for their intended purpose by taking a lead role in reporting medicine and vaccine side effects.

The Therapeutic Goods Administration annual performance statistics report, released this week, showed 24,000 medicine and vaccine adverse reaction reports were made between July 2018 and June 2019, with pharmacists making the largest contribution among health professionals.

“Of those reports made by health professionals, nearly half were lodged by pharmacists, including hospital pharmacists,” Pharmaceutical Society of Australia National President Associate Professor Chris Freeman said.

“Medicine related side effects are reported to the TGA for assessment and make a vital contribution to medicine safety in this country. PSA’s ‘Medicine safety: take care’ report [January 2019] indicated that 1.2 million Australians experienced an adverse reaction in the [previous] six months.”

What this highlighted, he added, was that “a lot more can be done to encourage adverse event reporting, and pharmacists, as expected, are leading the way in this area”.

“Pharmacists are medicine experts,” he continued. “They also spend a lot of time with consumers talking about their medicine use and any side effects or issues they may have experienced. It’s no surprise that they are more aware of adverse reactions and most likely to report them.”

Products for which therapeutic claims are made are assessed by the TGA and entered on the Australian Register of Therapeutic Goods (ARTG). At June 30, 2019, there were 88,788 therapeutic goods on the ARTG, including 31,987 new products added during the reporting period.

“The number of new listed medicines entered into the ARTG this year was 1,893,” Associate Professor Freeman said.

“Use of medicines is the most common intervention we make in healthcare, which unfortunately means problems with medicine use are also common.

“As the custodians of medicine safety in the healthcare system, the early identification of medicine adverse effects through established reporting systems is vital and this highlights the vital role of pharmacists.

“The TGA report shows the profession takes its responsibility very seriously and prioritises medicine safety.”

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