MPS, GSK issue joint commitment to patient safety focus
In conjunction with World Pharmacists Day 2019, the Malaysian Pharmaceutical Society (MPS) and GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) Consumer Healthcare Sdn Bhd have reaffirmed a mutual commitment to high standards of patient safety in products and supply chains.
An estimated 1,000 pharmacists from the MPS have pledged to display commitment stickers at their individual premises. The stickers are intended to remind both patients and pharmacists that patient safety—through proactive and clear communication on correct use of medicines, and adherence to them—must be prioritised.
“Traditionally, pharmacists served as the bridge between patient and doctor by checking the prescriptions from physicians before dispensing the medication to the patients,” said Amrahi Buang, MPS president. “That role has not changed; pharmacists are now also responsible for helping patients to manage minor ailments with medicines by responding to their symptoms, and even offering health advice on their diet and lifestyle.”
According to Amrahi, a pharmacist’s role revolves around patient safety, especially with growing evidence of Malaysians turning to pharmacists for assistance with managing their health. He added that for pharmacists to effectively carry out their roles within the community, more open communication was needed between them and their patients.
In 2015, the MOH Pharmaceutical Services Division released the results of the National Survey on the Use of Medicines by Malaysian Consumers (NSUM 2015), a cross-sectional survey of urban and rural consumers aiming to investigate current patterns of medicine use and knowledge across all states and federal territories. [Available at www.pharmacy.gov.my/v2/sites/default/files/document-upload/national-survey-use-medicine-iii-nsum-iii.pdf]
Among the survey’s findings were that despite evidence of extensive use of pharmaceutical products, many respondents admitted to knowledge gaps related to safe usage, compliance issues, as well as a need for additional information on medicines and medication-related issues (see infographic below). When respondents were asked regarding their first persons of contact for medicine-related concerns, doctors (49.6%) and pharmacists (31.1%) were the top choices.
“Through this pledge with GSK, we want to show that we, the pharmacy community, are committed to initiate conversations with our patients to encourage proper adherence to their medication and to discuss what is best for them,” said Amrahi. “For various reasons, some patients may not be able to adhere to instructions, thus affecting their safety. We want patients to voice out their concerns about their medication, so that we can advise on the right course of action.”
“At GSK, we have extensive safety controls throughout our production and supply chain, and these are enforced throughout all the markets in which we operate,” said Bryan Wong, GSK Consumer Healthcare’s general manager. “All these measures are part of our responsibility as a global pharmaceutical company to ensure that the health of our consumers is not compromised in any way.”
“Our pledge with the MPS also serves to remind consumers that they have a role to play in medicinal safety. They should not be shy about asking their pharmacists about the right medication for them, alternative options, and what to do in cases where they are unable to adhere completely,” he added.