(1998; 17 pages)
Good pharmacy practice
In 1992, FIP developed standards for pharmacy services entitled "Good pharmacy practice (GPP) in community and hospital pharmacy settings", which have since been adopted and presented in a WHO document (WHO, 1996).
One of the four elements of good pharmacy practice addressed in this document covers activities associated with self-care, including advice about and, where appropriate, the supply of a medicine or other treatment for treating ailments that can be self-treated successfully.
In 1993, the charter of collaboration between the Pharmaceutical Group of the European Community (PGEC) and the European Proprietary Medicines Manufacturers' Association (AESGP) noted the following:
"The pharmacist is an adviser to the public on everyday health care and is a key figure in the supply and delivery of medicines to the consumer. He is a partner of the manufacturer of non-prescription medicines. Both share the common goals of service of high quality for the patient and encouragement of the rational use of medicines. The pharmacist in his professional capacity and in direct contact with patients is competent to provide sound advice on the medicines he supplies" (PGEC & AESGP, 1993).
Increasingly, people are managing a large proportion of their ailments without consulting either a doctor or pharmacist. Yet pharmacists can play a key role in helping people to make informed self-care choices.
Self-care and self-medication raise the issue of the responsibility of consumers and patients to ensure that the care or medication they select is appropriate to their needs, safe and effective. Equally, they pose several questions for pharmacists:
• How are patients and consumers advised regarding the technical and ethical issues associated with self-care and self-medication?
• What determinants and factors must be taken into account regarding the implementation of self-care and self-medication for the prevention and treatment of diseases in developed and developing countries?
• What are the key features of self-care and self-medication in developed and developing countries?
Considering the scope of pharmacy and the functions of pharmacists, the role of pharmacists regarding self-care and self-medication must be specified. Professionals also need guidance concerning how they can best discharge their responsibilities, not only at community level, but also through the development and distribution of drugs. Additionally, ethical, regulatory, pharmacotechnical and quality assurance aspects should be addressed, as well as consumers' attitude and perceptions