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Regulators, ministries of health, policy-makers and national pharmacy organisations are being encouraged to assess regulations in their country related to pharmacy-based care of noncommunicable diseases (NCDs) with a development tool recently made available from the International Pharmaceutical Federation (FIP).

  Against the backdrop of major challenges that NCDs present to health systems and inadequate numbers of sufficiently trained healthcare providers, enhancing the role of the pharmacist and the availability of primary healthcare services in community pharmacy is a global imperative. FIP has been addressing needs in this area through its Practice Transformation Programme on NCDs and the ‘Management of Non-Communicable Diseases: Regulatory Self-Assessment and Development Tool for Transforming Pharmacy Practice’ is the programme’s latest output.

The tool has been developed by an expert group gathered under the auspices of the FIP Forum of Pharmacy Professional Regulators. It is based on their experiences from countries where pharmacy services targeting NCDs (including testing, measurement of parameters, such as blood pressure and peak expiratory volume, and prescribing or modifying prescriptions) have been successfully introduced and regulated, and on researched pharmacy practice legislation from around the world.

“Some countries have drafted and enacted enabling legislation to position the pharmacist to provide patient care to meet NCD needs while safely filling in some of the gaps that exist. This resource provides an excellent template to assess the status of pharmacy practice regarding NCDs, as well as being an invaluable tool for countries that currently do not have pharmacists involved in an expanded scope in this area,” said Mr Ronald Guse, chair of the FIP Forum of Pharmacy Professional Regulators.

In some countries, expanded, advanced or specialised pharmacy practice exists or can be certified, and there may be a preference to use terms like ‘advanced practice pharmacist’, ‘extended practice pharmacist’ or ‘clinical pharmacist’.

In other countries, pharmacists may acquire the competence to provide expanded services for NCDs as part of their foundational education and training and there is no need for designations or a separate register to set different levels of practice. “This tool may be useful for developing strategies or enabling regulatory frameworks in countries where pharmacists have a limited role in NCD care, testing and treatment strategies. Enacting new or changing existing legislation can be a slow process. The key is to create enabling legislation and include further descriptors and limitations in regulations. This creates a simpler and more agile process, and is supported by this tool,” Mr Guse said.

He added: “This regulatory self assessment tool is not specific to one NCD area, but rather describes and enables broader roles for pharmacists. Although it focuses on community pharmacy practice and enhancing accessibility to primary healthcare, it can also be applied to pharmacists practising in hospitals, long-term care facilities, or other patient-centered care settings.”