At a time of great uncertainty and emergency, the pharmacy profession has demonstrated its expertise, strength, courage and dedication to care to the highest level, said Mr Dominique Jordan, President of the International Pharmaceutical Federation (FIP) at the opening ceremony of the FIP Virtual 2020 conference recently. 

Thanking the pharmacy profession around the world for its efforts during the Covid-19 pandemic, Mr Jordan said that he had “never been so proud” to be a pharmacist as in the past seven months. He added that the pandemic had emphasised the power of sharing and solidarity, and that acting as “one pharmacy”, he was confident that the profession would emerge from the pandemic “bigger and better”.

However, the profession must now think ahead and complement the positive recognition it had received with evidence that can be used for discussions with governments after the crisis to enhance pharmacy practice, the FIP President said. FIP has already begun to collect evidence through surveys to capture the pharmaceutical response to and impact of Covid-19 for this purpose and Mr Jordan urged the profession to contribute to them. He added that, post-pandemic, pharmacists would be needed more than ever to prevent ill health and ensure patient safety: “The burden of diseases that existed before Covid-19 remains, and some are likely to worsen because of the socio-economic problems brought about by this pandemic. Antimicrobial resistance has not gone away. Problems in health systems have not evaporated. And new pandemics are possible.” 

He also highlighted the need to tackle several long-standing issues that have become more acute during the pandemic, such as misinformation and excessive information, medicines shortages, and fake medicines. He encouraged all pharmacists, as trustworthy sources of expertise on medicines and health, to be part of solving these problems. “Our knowledge ensures the safety of patients, not only protecting them from ill-advised actions related to Covid-19, but protecting them from harm from misuse of medicines in general,” he said.

During his opening ceremony address, the FIP President also gave focus to the need to increase immunisation coverage and to invest in science. On vaccination, he said: “Disease prevention is imperative to achieving universal health coverage, development and prosperity. It is imperative for countries to expand their infrastructure and diversify their pathways for vaccination, and for pharmacies to commit to playing a central role in vaccination strategies.” 

On investment in science, he said: “People are now seeing the importance of pharmaceutical science and the hope it carries. What this crisis has shown is that investing in science is a prudent decision. We need new medicines that are effective, affordable and accessible, as well as new vaccines. Research also helps us to be prepared for pandemics.”