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Pharmacy-based point-of-care testing brings health and economic benefits, the International Pharmaceutical Federation (FIP) has said in a Statement of Policy released recently.

A broad range of point-of-care tests can be performed in pharmacies, from screening for diseases (ie, Covid-19, HIV), to monitoring chronic disease indicators (ie, testing for cholesterol or blood glucose levels).

In the new statement, the Federation called for pharmacy testing services to be incorporated into publicly-funded and insurance-funded healthcare, as well as being available for purchase by individuals, and for pharmacists to have read-and-write access to

electronic health records so that test results can be shared across the healthcare team.

“Providing health screening services through point-of-care tests has increased in importance with improved technologies, greater acceptance, and current global agendas, such as the World Health Organisation Declaration of Astana on Primary Health Care steering changes in practice.

Moreover, we now have clear evidence for the benefits of pharmacy-based testing,” said Mr Sherif Guorgui, co-chair of FIP’s Policy Committee on Point-of-Care Testing.

The new statement, The Role of Pharmacy Professionals in Point-of-Care Testing, updates FIP’s 2004 position on this topic.

It describes the benefits of pharmacy point-of-care testing as including earlier detection of disease, reduction of unnecessary visits to general practitioners, and more responsible use of antibiotics. Given the many potential benefits, the update sets out specific recommendations for different stakeholders in order to increase access to testing through pharmacies.

For example, the statement says that governments should remove regulatory barriers to enable pharmacy professionals to play a bigger part in testing.

At the same time, it urges national pharmacy organisations to advocate for necessary revision of legislation. That pharmacy students should be provided with basic training on taking biological samples is one of FIP’s recommendations for education providers.

“The World Health Organisation has said that when point-of-care tests are adequately performed, they improve quality of care. With this policy statement, FIP is leading on point-of-care testing in pharmacy settings as a way to strengthen health systems around the world.

This is particularly important in low- and middle-income countries to ensure affordable access to health services. It is crucial for pharmacy professionals to be included in national and local strategies and I encourage all stakeholders to read the statement,” said Dr Julien Fonsart, the other co-chair of the Policy Committee.