Pharmacists have been an untapped health resource, but this will change with the Pharmacy Action Plan, said Pharmaceutical Society president Graeme Smith on World Pharmacists Day.

New Zealand pharmacists were joining pharmaceutical colleagues around the world in celebrating their roles in health care and research to mark the day on September 25. An animated video is also on its way to inform the public who pharmacists are and what services they can provide.

Smith, head of the society that represents about 4000 pharmacists, said the Government recognised pharmacists as an “untapped resource”, given their five years of professional training, and this was reflected in the Pharmacy Action Plan launched in June last year.

“The Action Plan aligns with the New Zealand Health Strategy and aims to make greater use of the skills and training of the pharmacist as a member of an integrated healthcare team,” said Smith.

Enhanced services that pharmacists may now provide include:

  • medication reviews
  • Warfarin monitoring
  • range of vaccinations
  • treatment (antibiotics) for urinary tract infections
  • treatment for erectile dysfunction
  • (soon) repeat prescriptions for the contraceptive pill.

“Already this year we have seen pharmacists able to administer subsidised flu vaccinations to pregnant women and people aged over 65,” said Smith. He said the next section of the plan under consideration was a Minor Ailments Scheme provided by pharmacists to targeted populations.

In 2013 new regulations were also introduced to allow suitable trained specialist pharmacists to be designated prescribers (similar to the regulations under which registered nurse prescribing was introduced last year) after completing a postgraduate certificate in prescribing and meeting the clinical experience requirements. In August 2016 there were 18 pharmacist prescribers, of which about half were working in primary care or across primary and secondary care.

Smith said recent research indicates that the public was largely unaware of how pharmacists were trained, their ongoing professional development requirements or the range of services they could provide. With this in mind, the Society has created an animated video to show patients how their pharmacists can help them. “The video will explain in a simple and entertaining way who we are as pharmacists and what we do,” Smith said. The Society expects to release the video in early October.

Pharmacist facts

  • New Zealand has more than 3500 practising pharmacists.
    • Around 75 per cent of these work in community pharmacies.
    • About 13 per cent are hospital pharmacists.
    • About 2 per cent work in primary care teams.
  • There are close to 1000 community pharmacies.

Source: Pharmacy Action Plan 2016-2020, Ministry of Health (2016)


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