Sustainability is an area that needs immediate action by pharmacists, Dr Carmen Peña, President of the International Pharmaceutical Federation (FIP), said at the opening of the 78th World Congress of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences, held in Glasgow, United Kingdom.
FIP’s future vision and mission requires a series of sustainability goals to be set with regard to access to and responsible use of medicines, viability of the pharmacy profession and environmental considerations, Dr Peña said. She added that, as the profession closest to patients, and to people in general, pharmacists have a great opportunity to help meet the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals in terms of health and social well-being. Sustainability is the third of three focus areas in Dr Peña’s “Two times two plan” for pharmacy, which she described at the start of her presidency in 2014.
Dr Peña said that access to medicines remains a distant goal in many parts of the world, and this lack of access can have devastating consequences, such as the real and growing threat of falsified and counterfeit medicines. “The greatest guarantee of sustainability in access to and responsible use of medicines resides in policies that lay down global, national and regional regulations which ensure that the whole medicines chain, from research to destruction, is supervised and safeguarded by pharmacy workers,” Dr Peña said. To keep this chain intact when crossing borders, there should also be a move towards promoting policies and laws that guarantee international collaboration in equal access to quality medicines. “We are not talking about charity, we are talking about justice,” she added.
Sustainability of the pharmacy profession, Dr Peña said, requires the freedom for pharmacists to operate without pressure in their professional work. “And it requires economic freedom in which remuneration policies do not limit the capacity of pharmacists to carry out their profession.” She added that FIP firmly believes in the urgent need to invest in a fully qualified pharmacy workforce in sufficient quantity and quality to meet every need regarding the health of populations around the world.
On sustainability of the environment, Dr Peña said that pharmacists’ goal should be to minimise the impact of medicines. “Our responsibility certainly does not end with their dispensing,” she said. Pharmacists are responsible for the complete life-cycle of medicines from research, production, distribution, safeguarding, conservation and dispensing to their collection and the management of waste. “We should put an end to the perception that environmental measures are an obstacle and consider them an opportunity to grow and to innovate,” Dr Peña said, “because if we are a part of the problem, we must also be a part of the solution.”