A drugs and therapeutics committee (DTC), also called a pharmacy and therapeutics committee, is a committee designated to ensure the safe and effective use of medicines in the facility or area under its jurisdiction, Such committees are well-established in industrial countries as a successful way of promoting more rational, cost-effective use of medicines in hospitals (Box 5). Governments may encourage hospitals to have DTCs by making it an accreditation requirement to various professional societies. DTC members should represent all the major specialities and the administration; they should also be independent and declare any conflict of interest. A senior doctor would usually be the chairperson and the chief pharmacist, the secretary.
Factors critical to success include: clear objectives; a firm mandate; support by the senior hospital management; transparency; wide representation; technical competence; a multidisciplinary approach; and sufficient resources to implement the DTC's decisions.
Box 5 Responsibilities of a drugs and therapeutics committee
• developing, adapting, or adopting clinical guidelines for the health institution or district;
• selecting cost-effective and safe medicines (hospital/ district drug formulary);
• implementing and evaluating strategies to improve medicine use (including drug use evaluation, and liaison with antibiotic and infection control committees);
• providing on-going staff education (training and printed materials);
• controlling access to staff by the pharmaceutical industry with its promotional activities;
• monitoring and taking action to prevent adverse drug reactions and medication errors;
• providing advice about other drug management issues, such as quality and expenditure.