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Pharmacist Only Drug Schedules Increase Availability of Non-Presciption Medicines

Neil Johnston & Con Berbatis
Consultant and Pharmacy Researcher Perspective

Issue 51: August 2006
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Editor’s Note: For some time, Con Berbatis has been researching drug scheduling and its effect on the availability of the number of non-prescription drugs for consumers, the economics of the process and any concurrent safety issues.
The first of these reports was published in i2P in November 2005, where Australian drug scheduling, and countries with similar legislation, was compared to a range of countries that had no pharmacist-only classifications, such as the US.
Con Berbatis found that countries like Australia were able to make available more non –prescription drugs than countries with no pharmacist schedules in place.
In a follow-up report in December 2005 Con Berbatis found countries without a pharmacist-controlled drug sector, had misuse and adverse event issues that were more difficult to track.
His research has been confirmed with the publication of new material by another Australian research group.

You are invited to refresh your memories by visiting:

I2P November 2005     http://archive.i2p.com.au/?page=site/article&id=320


I2P December 2005   http://archive.i2p.com.au/?page=site/article&id=337

The confirmation paper, published in the
International Journal of Pharmacy Practice (IJPP 2006, 14: 1-10)
“A review of pharmaceutical scheduling processes in six countries and the effect on consumer access to medicines”
by Andrew Gilbert, Deepa Rao and Neil Quintrell, from which was concluded:

” The results indicate that there is a tendency for more products to be made available without a prescription in countries that have schedules with pharmacy involvement (Australia, NZ, Canada, France and UK) and a matching tendency for preparations to be held in ‘prescription-only’ schedules in the USA where ‘pharmacy-only’ schedules do not exist. The presence of ‘pharmacy-only’ schedules provides a structure whereby greater consumer access to medication is available.”

In recent correspondence received from Con Berbatis, he said:

”I believe the differences in non-medical drug access may have broader health economics effects and much wider primary health care roles for pharmacists than envisaged in the USA.
We are finalising a paper which supports this important thesis.”

These findings also indicate that Australian pharmacist implementation of S3 drug schedules, often criticised by regulators, is working well to make available a wider range of useful drugs to the general public (compared to countries such as the US), in a safe and “trackable” manner.

Having established the evidence to support this contention, the way is open for pharmacists to become more widely involved in areas such as prescribing and disease state management.
The full report recorded in the International Journal of Pharmacy Practice may be found by clicking on this link.

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