In our article of February 25, 2021, we addressed the issue of "facilitated drug dispensation by pharmacists" (EMA). The situation is that since the revisions of the Therapeutic Product Act (TPA, Heilmittelgesetz) and of the Therapeutic Products Ordinance (Arzneimittelverordnung) came into force on January 1, 2019, pharmacists have been allowed to - under certain conditions - dispense prescription medicines directly without a doctor's prescription.
Survey of pharmacists in January 2021
In order to assess the future importance of facilitated drug dispensing and a change in prescribing behavior, we conducted a survey among Swiss pharmacies in January 2021.
The results showed that the pharmacies interviewed are convinced that the medical competence (consultation and dispensing of medications) of pharmacies will increase significantly in the future.
The pharmacists questioned also assume that those indications that are already approved for facilitated drug dispensation will become even more important in the future for pharmacies. Several interesting indications emerged in the evaluation. For example, pharmacists believe that the facilitated dispensing of influenza vaccination and emergency contraception will become strongly more important in the pharmacy.
Survey of primary care physicians in March 2021
To better understand the results from the pharmacist survey, we conducted the same survey on facilitated medication dispensation among primary care physicians in March 2021.
More critical primary care physicians
The comparison of the results of the two surveys is interesting. In contrast to pharmacists, primary care physicians are much less convinced that EMA and the associated counseling competence by pharmacists will become more important in the future (Fig. 1). 98% of the pharmacists interviewed believe that EMA will become more important in the future. Among primary care physicians, only 52% of the participants share this opinion and 48% share the conviction that EMA by pharmacists will become less important.
Figure 1: Future importance of facilitated drug dispensation by pharmacies, as assessed by primary care physicians and pharmacists
A similarly critical picture emerges when examining the GPs' statements on the future EMA importance for various indications. In general, primary care physicians believe that the future EMA-importance of all indications will be less. The differences are most pronounced in the indications "eye diseases", "urogenital diseases", "obesity", "bacterial infections (systemic antibiotics)", "rheumatic diseases (systemic antirheumatics)" and "cardiovascular diseases (antihypertensives)" (Fig. 2).
Figure 2: Future importance of different medical indications in facilitated drug dispensation by pharmacies, assessed by primary care physicians and pharmacists.
It is obvious, our survey examines the opinions in two groups with different interests. It is clear that the revision of the TPA (Therapeutic Products Act) will enable prescribing behavior to change in Switzerland. It remains to be seen to what extent the change in behavior will take place. Another interesting question is how to control the extent and the direction of the change.
Unclear consequences in terms of resources and treatment quality
The revision of the TPA and the associated EMA option for pharmacists are aimed at protecting the healthcare budget while maintaining the same quality of treatment. Whether the goal will be achieved is questionable, as many of the physicians interviewed complained about diagnostic deficiencies, lack of patient data management, and dissatisfied patients.
About this survey: This survey was conducted with our market research platform across Swiss pharmacies in January 2021. Cooperation partner for this survey was www.verhaltensarchitektur.ch.
Market research platform: We regularly interview physicians, pharmacists, patients and caregivers. You can find our services here and if you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact us.
About First Aid Marketing GmbH: We are a service provider for the healthcare industry with focus on scientific evidence, market research and health economics.