Pharmacists demand a complete ban on the use of injections by GPs

Karachi, May 3, 2019: There should be a complete ban on administering medicines through injections by the General Practitioners (GPs) at their clinics in the country as 99 percent injections given to the patients by physicians at small clinics and dispensaries are unnecessary and not required for treatment, expert pharmacists said on Friday.

“An irrational use of giving medicines through injections is underway in Pakistan and most often, medicines are unnecessarily given through injections by the general practitioners. There should be a complete ban on giving medicines through injections other than secondary and tertiary-care hospitals”, said Abdul Latif Shaikh, Chief Executive Officer of the Pakistan Society of Health-System Pharmacists (PSHP) while addressing a news conference at Karachi Press Club (KPC).

Accompanied by other members of the society including Umaima Muzzamil, Yasir Hashmi, Umer Ali Khan, and others, PSHP Chief Executive Officer (CEO) said the unfortunate deaths of the patients including baby girl Nashwa, Asmat and others due to medication errors could be avoided by following international practices and rules and regulations.

“Baby Nashwa died because she was given a medicine through an injection in concentrated form and the untrained staff did not know it could prove to be lethal for her. Her life could have been saved if the hospital administration had hired a trained and qualified pharmacist to supervise the administration of medicines to the patients. There is an urgent to revisit the dispensation of medicines to save precious lives due to medication errors”, PSHP Chief said.

Commenting on the recent outbreak of HIV/Aids among children in Larkana, the eminent pharmacist said reuse of syringes was one the leading cause of spreading HIV, Hepatitis B and C infections to the people but added that this could have been avoided by introducing self-destructing syringes, which could never be used twice.

“Pharmaceuticals worth four billion dollars or 550 billion rupees are distributed in the country every year but there is no monitoring of over 95 percent of these medicines and pharmaceutical products. There are hundreds of look-alike medicines and ampules of injections and often there is a chance that wrong medicine is administered to the patients”, he deplored.

He further deplored that medicines were being sold like “chocolates and candies” in Pakistan from the pharmacies and medical stores, where they are kept in a non-professional manner and added that often medicines are sold without prescription while often prescriptions are misunderstood by the uneducated staff of pharmacies and wrong medicines are provided to the patients.

Unfortunately, Sindh Health Care Commission (SHCC) lacks pharmacists to deal with the issue of medicine, which is an important part of the healthcare system in the country, Abdul Latif Shaikh said and vowed to approach the Healthcare Commission so that proper strategies could be formulated to avoid and minimize medication errors at healthcare establishments.

Demanding public and private hospitals to hire educated and trained pharmacists to minimize medication errors, he said hospitals should also prepare a list of “High Alert Medicines”, prepare Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) regarding these high alert medicines and train their staff how to administer these medicines to the patients.

“After every death due to medication, we suspend a few doctors, paramedics and nurses, put some of them in jails and after days, we forget about that incident. Doing this would not make any difference. We would need to prepare systems to prevent loss of lives due to wrong administration of drugs and that is only possible by hiring skilled and trained pharmacists and reforming our system”, he maintained.

Treasurer PSHP Umaima Muzzamil said authorities should take measures to minimize the use of injections in the country and in this regard, an awareness campaign should also be launched to apprise people about safe medication practices and hazards of self-medication.

She maintained that use of technology could help in reducing medication errors at healthcare establishments and adding vowed to approach Sindh Health Care Commission (SHCC) in order improve systems of medicine dispensation at public and private hospitals.

Yasir Hashmi deplored that there was no reliable data available on medication errors and deaths caused due to these errors in Pakistan, saying without having data, strategies could not be formulated to avoid deaths as well as economic loss due to medication errors in the country.

He also called for hiring pharmacists at public and private hospitals as well as at pharmacies, improving medicines’ manufacturing, supply chain and dispensation to save precious lives.

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