Pharmacist responsibilities when selling complementary medicines


Introduction. There is a need for clearer guidance for pharmacists regarding their responsibilities when selling complementary medicines. The investigators have developed an ethical framework that proposes five responsibilities for pharmacists selling complementary medicines: the responsibility to provide evidence-based recommendations, train staff, set up the pharmacy so that consumers are provided the offer of advice when purchasing complementary medicines and to be vigilant for complementary medicine-related harms. Aims. Determine the acceptability and feasibility of an ethical framework for selling complementary medicines in community pharmacy. Methods. Australian community pharmacists were invited to participate in online focus groups and interviews. Participants were recruited via social media and the professional networks of pharmacy groups. Participants were provided the ethical framework prior to the discussion. Discussions were transcribed verbatim and analysed using inductive thematic analysis. Results. Seventeen community pharmacists participated in four focus groups and six individual interviews. There was good representation among participants in terms of gender, years of practice, pharmacy location and script volume. Most participants adopted an evidence-based approach to complementary medicines, but differed in terms of level of active involvement in recommending complementary medicines. Most participants felt that the proposed ethical framework was acceptable but identified barriers to implementation. A small number of participants argued that requiring pharmacists to fulfil more responsibilities when selling complementary medicines compared to other providers put an unfair financial burden on pharmacies. Barriers to implementation included access to high-quality resources on complementary medicines and the financial and time burden involved in training staff and implementing the framework. Strategies to overcome barriers were identified by participants. Discussion. The framework was acceptable to the community pharmacists who participated in the study. The barriers identified to implementing the framework in practice suggest improvements to the presentation of the framework as well as strategies that will support pharmacists to implement the proposed practice changes.

APSA Annual Conference
Monash University