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Vol 270 No 7236 p230
15 February 2003

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  OFT report
  Supermarket pharmacy
  Community pharmacy
  Practice pharmacists
  Hospital pharmacy
  Insulin labelling
  Emergency boxes
  Locum pay
  Medication errors
  The Profession
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  Council election

Letters to the Editor

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The Profession

No reason to produce separate registers

From Dr J. A. Hunt, FRPharmS

Your leading article (PJ, 8 February, p176) poses some fundamental questions. The suggestion that pharmacists who work in academia, the pharmaceutical industry, pharmaceutical journalism or any aspect of the profession, other than individual patient care, might be designated "inactive pharmacists", is a worrying one. Such a description would be inaccurate, unacceptable and many hard-working pharmacists would regard it as insulting. As indicated by your correspondent Maurice Jackson (PJ, 8 February, p189) the media and, no doubt, uninformed members of the Government and the public, regard the pharmacist as the chemist in the corner shop or working in the supermarket. It should be part of the Royal Electronicjuice's remit to correct this false impression and to support all members of the profession, regardless of the sphere of pharmacy in which they work. If Government officials think that "anyone holding themselves out to be a pharmacist" (PJ, 8 February, supplement) is necessarily someone who dispenses prescriptions, then they should be properly briefed and perhaps reminded that pharmaceuticals provide one of Britain's largest exporting industries, involving many pharmacists who travel widely or live overseas.

Pharmacy is a broad church, and can only provide the service that the Government and the public expect if all branches of the profession work in a harmonious and co-ordinated way. If it were not for pharmacists in the industry researching, developing, formulating, stability testing, analysing and authorising release of pharmaceutical products, and then supervising distribution and providing technical and medical information, there would be no products for "active pharmacists" to dispense. Without academic pharmacists there would be no new pharmacists and without pharmaceutical journalists we would all work in an uninformed vacuum. The profession provides an integrated whole, and to begin setting up invidious distinctions between pharmacists depending on their employment should not be countenanced by the Society.

The solution to the problem is a simple one for which there is already an established working precedent. In the industry, an individual who has satisfied certain official requirements, who is duly authorised and registered, and is responsible for supervision of production of pharmaceuticals, their quality assurance, the batch records and for authorising their release to the market is designated "the qualified person". In a similar way, a pharmacist working in individual patient care who has satisfied the requirements of CPD should be designated as "the authorised pharmacist" and hold a certificate to that effect. The designation could be recorded in the annual register of pharmacists by a letter "A", in the way that fellows are recorded with a letter "F". If thought appropriate, retired pharmacists paying the reduced subscription could be identified by letter "R". There is absolutely no reason to start producing separate registers and creating different sorts of pharmacists. Once a pharmacist, always a pharmacist, and we all work in our different ways for the health of the nation.

John Hunt
Weymouth, Dorset

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