Non-prescription medicines: Current issues in Australian community pharmacy
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Objectives: This qualitative research aimed to improve understanding of the perceptions, experiences and attitudes of community pharmacists regarding developments in the non-prescription medicines market. Method: Qualitative data were collected via in-depth interviews with 20 community pharmacists in Brisbane, Australia. Pharmacists-in-charge were randomly telephoned from a list generated from online pharmacy-locator services and invited to participate in a face-to-face semi-structured interview based on six themes. The data collected were transcribed verbatim and analysed for prominent themes, major issues, differences and unique individual responses. Key findings: The topic commonly of concern to participants was the descheduling of non-prescription medicines (including Ibuprofen and nicotine-replacement therapy) for availability via non-pharmacy medicine retailers. Other key findings and common themes related to the current scheduling of non-prescription medicines as Pharmacist Only Medicines and Pharmacy Medicines (largely favoured), the importance of pharmacists' advice on non-prescription medicines and the online system for control of pseudoephedrine sales (Project STOP; widely commended). Conclusions: Despite some variability in opinions and the potential for professionally desirable responses, the findings generally supported professional initiatives to preserve non-prescription medicines as a domain of community pharmacies. The involvement of pharmacists in medicine sales was largely favoured as an opportunity to maintain control over supply and to advise on appropriate medicines usage. These data may inform the quality supply of non-prescription medicines, and are of significance to countries operating or debating similar scheduling systems for non-prescription medicines. © 2009 The Authors.
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