Leading pharmacist Leonila Ocampo, President of the APIMM and a key advocate of good pharmacy practice (GPP) in the country said “RA 10918 is a landmark legislation not only in the pharmacy industry but in the entire healthcare system in the country. If implemented to the fullest, we can expect huge positive impacts on the delivery of better healthcare especially in terms of medication service to patients.”
The implementing rules and regulation of the new pharmacy law has been finalized and signed; it is expected to take effect in January 2017.
“[Having the new pharmacy law passed] was not an easy process at all. It underwent many levels of scrutiny by legislators and faced strong opposition by big industry players who thought its provisions were contrary to business interests. But after long and painstaking years of lobbying, it is finally here,” Ocampo avers.
RA 10918 is in line with the World Health Organization (WHO) and International Pharmaceutical Federation (FIP)’s GPP framework updated and adopted last 2011. GPP aims to “contribute to health improvement and to help patients with health problems to make the best use of their medicines.”
Specifically, RA 10918 expands the scope of the pharmacist’s tasks to include immunization. The new law is also geared towards the professionalization of the pharmacy workforce by upgrading the level of pharmacy assistants to NC III, requiring more stringent rules on evaluation of pharmacy personnel and pharmacy licensing.
Ocampo underlined that present pharmaceutical practice in the country needs a lot of improvement in order to optimize the outcome of taking medicines. “At present there is a significant gap between potential and actual outcome of medicines and this can be attributed to some extent to the competency of the people who are handling and dispensing the drugs.”
“Pharmacy practice should be appreciated by the public as part of the health profession and this can only be possible if those in the frontline, meaning pharmacies in the patient care settings are capable of delivering professional health service and not merely act as sales people selling drugs to patients,” Ocampo furthered.
Ocampo added that efforts to adopt the GPP framework and professionalize the pharmacy industry in the Philippines started as early as 2010. In 2014, the Department of Health and Food and Drug Authority issued an administrative order and a memorandum circular that set attendance in pharmacy support workforce orientation as a requirement for renewing or applying pharmacy license to operate. It is part of FDA’s long term goal to transition to a 100 percent Pharmacy Assistant Certification by 2020, an initiative important to ensure that only competent people will handle and distribute medicines to clients and patients, given the nature of the medicines.
“RA 10918 is necessary to institutionalize long term changes in pharmacy practice so that we will have legal basis to carry-on what has been started. The law’s passage is indeed a welcome development,” Ocampo said.#