International guidelines on how pharmacists should deal with the latest coronavirus outbreak

The roles that pharmacists in community, hospital and clinical biology can play in preventing the spread of the new coronavirus 2019-nCoV and supporting the efficient management of infection by healthcare systems are outlined in a new document published by the International Pharmaceutical Federation (FIP) today. The document was developed by an emergency taskforce set up by FIP following the World Health Organization’s declaration that the outbreak of 2019-nCoV constitutes a public health emergency of international concern. 

“Since pharmacies are often the first point of contact with the health system and given that cases have already been seen in a number of countries, it is important that the whole pharmacy workforce is well informed and prepared,” said taskforce chair Mrs Jane Dawson, who is also secretary of FIP’s Military and Emergency Pharmacy Section and director of health policy for the New Zealand Defence Force.

The document gives reliable information on 2019-nCoV and covers preventive measures (from how to wear a mask to effective disinfection), what equipment to stock, advice that pharmacists can give, and laboratory testing. 

The taskforce also comprised a virologist as well as pharmacists from China. FIP’s member organisation the Chinese Pharmaceutical Association (CPA) had already been addressing 2019-nCoV, and had prepared guidance that includes recommendations for treatment of 2019-nCoV infection.

“It is an honour for the CPA, and myself to collaborate with FIP on an international pharmacy response to the 2019-nCoV outbreak, as well as to share the CPA’s document as part of the global prevention and control work,” said Professor Zhao Rongsheng of Peking University Third Hospital Pharmacy Department and deputy chairman of the CPA’s hospital pharmacy and evidence-based pharmacy committees. 

FIP’s document, ‘Coronavirus 2019-nCoV outbreak: Information and interim guidelines for pharmacists and the pharmacy workforce‘, will be downloadable in the six official United Nations languages along with other resources on the FIP website.

“Although the CPA guidance is aligned with characteristics particular to the system of pharmacy in China, it contains valuable expertise that can be used by pharmacists around the world, and it complements FIP’s guidance for an international audience. The CPA has kindly agreed to share this document in English and Chinese through the FIP website,” Mrs Dawson said. 

“As demonstrated by previous SARS-CoV and MERS-CoV outbreaks, coronavirus infections can be contained through the active engagement of decision-makers, healthcare professionals and the community. This guidance is a valuable resource to ensure preparedness of our workforce in combating this new coronavirus and perhaps future ones. It also highlights the huge benefit of international collaboration via FIP,” she added.

Author: International Pharmaceutical Federation

The International Pharmaceutical Federation (FIP) is the global body representing over 4 million pharmacists and pharmaceutical scientists. We work to meet the world's health care needs. FIP is a non-governmental organisation that has been in official relations with the World Health Organization since 1948.

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