As the elderly population grows, medication safety has emerged as a pivotal public concern, elevating the role of community pharmacies to an essential one. The high accessibility of community pharmacies positions them as the first port for the public to address medication issues. Community pharmacists leverage their expertise to safeguard medication safety and offer a range of thoughtful pharmaceutical services.
To foster the quality and accessibility of community pharmacies, the Taiwan Food and Drug Administration (TFDA) has launched a series of strategic plans in recent years:
Revised Regulations on Good Practices for Drug Dispensation
The updated regulations mandate community pharmacies to retain source evidence and relevant documents of drugs to prevent counterfeit or misbranded drugs from entering the supply chain. It also imposes detailed requirements on drug storage conditions and recording of environmental conditions (e.g., temperature), ensuring consistent drug quality. New articles have also been introduced to guide compounding (changing the original dosage form or creating a new product), allowing pharmacists to fulfill their skills further.
Promotion of Structured Electronic Package Inserts
TFDA actively promotes the digitization and structuring of drug package inserts. By transforming package inserts into structured formats, the information on package inserts can be transmitted and utilized more smoothly and extensively. Furthermore, a drug package inserts inquiry platform was established to facilitate public access to drug information.
Enhancing Barrier-Free Environments in Community Pharmacies
TFDA emphasizes creating barrier-free environments, holding meetings with Disabled people’s organizations (DPO) to understand their needs and conduct educational training programs to enhance pharmacies' understanding of accessibility. For more people to access medication and services in community pharmacies, TFDA continually encourages community pharmacies to voluntarily report as barrier-free establishments. Additionally, an online map for inquiries about accessible facility pharmacies aids individuals with disabilities in locating suitable pharmacies.
Diverse Pharmaceutical Services
TFDA advocates for a broader array of pharmaceutical services. Notably, during the pandemic, many pharmacies initiated home delivery services. Recognizing the mobility challenges faced by some individuals, TFDA maintains its promotion of the service to ease the process of acquiring medications. Furthermore, community pharmacies now offer integrated medication management, medication adherence promotion, and drug consultation services. It is hoped that community pharmacy pharmacists can offer more comprehensive and professional services to meet the diverse health needs of the public.
Looking forward, TFDA will sustain collaborations with relevant stakeholders and experts, ensuring the effective and continuous execution of these initiatives while also developing new ones. TFDA also encourages the public to avail themselves of the manifold services offered by community pharmacies, championing their endeavors in this field.