IN the Republic of Moldova the collapse of the Soviet system has brought a flood of medicines on to the market which are virtually unknown to doctors and pharmacists. The sale of medicines by prescription has almost ceased, with doctors’ recommendations often ignored as patients are lured by drug store offers. Collaboration between doctors and pharmacists has diminished dramatically. The risk of patients purchasing unsafe medicines is increasing as some drug store staff, driven by the profit motive, advise patients to buy the most expensive rather than the most appropriate drugs.
A modern information system for medicines is seen as a priority to improve the situation, and a prerequisite is to train personnel. Therefore Moldova’s Association “DRUGS”, a pharmacology information centre, organized a training course entitled “A Model of a Modern Information Network on Rational Drug Use” from 13 - 17 April 1998. Thirty-six postgraduate students and residents from the Pharmaceutical Faculty of the State Medical and Pharmaceutical University of Moldova joined other faculty members, and staff from the State Quality Control Laboratory on the course.
The five days passed quickly, with an atmosphere of trust rapidly developing between all involved, as discussions, working groups and business games broke down any initial barriers. Students who had only intended participating in a few sessions found themselves reorganizing their schedules to remain on the course. Among the topics discussed were: the essential drugs concept, national essential drugs lists; guidelines for drug donations; the role of independent drug information centres; systematic approaches to information searches; analysis of major references, (such as Martindale, the US Pharmacopeia Drug Index and the British National
Formulary); structures for disseminating information on medicines; the creation of hospital formulary lists and formulary committees; drug information for patients; and the role of advertising in drug promotion. Course training materials were drawn from WHO, HAI, University of Arizona, USA, the US Phar-macopeia, and the US Food and Drug Administration.
The post course questionnaire revealed that the participants’ high level of motivation can partly be explained by the fact that for the majority (76%) the information they received was new (31%) or new in many aspects (45%). The course ended with participants presenting their own ideas for a structure to facilitate the flow of drug information. All participants were convinced of the benefit of introducing such a structure at every level of Moldova’s health system, but stressed the need for state support to achieve this.