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Press Release

ASHP Speaks Out on the Central Role of Pharmacists in CounterTerrorism

The American Society of Health-System Pharmacists (ASHP) has released an official statement that highlights the critical role of pharmacists in planning and executing pharmaceutical distribution and control and clinical services in the event of homeland terrorist attack with weapons of mass destruction, especially chemical, biological, and nuclear agents.

The policy, which offers advice to hospital and health-system pharmacy directors, individual health-system pharmacists, administrators, emergency preparedness planners, and ASHP affiliated state societies, was developed following a landmark meeting on emergency preparedness and the pharmaceutical supply chain convened by ASHP November 9, 2000.

ASHP’s "Statement on the Role of Health-System Pharmacists in Counterterrorism" advises that:

    • Pharmacists’ expertise should be used in the selection, handling, and deployment of medications and related supplies for national stockpiles and local inventories, 
    • Pharmacists at the local level should be involved in planning for providing interim treatment of patients before nationally stockpiled drugs arrive on scene, and 
    • Pharmacists should advise public health officials on appropriate public messages related to the use of medications following terrorist incidents. 
    • Pharmacists should be called upon to collaborate with physicians and other prescribers in the drug therapy management of individual victims in the event of a terrorist attack.

"Pharmacists who work in hospitals and health systems are truly on the front lines of this new war," said ASHP President Steve Sheaffer, M.S., FASHP. "It is vital that the nation begin to tap into the special medication-use and pharmaceutical distribution expertise that pharmacists possess."

The policy, which is attached, also recommends that:

    • Individual institutions coordinate their emergency preparedness plans with neighboring institutions and local, state, and federal authorities, 
    • Pharmacy directors work to coordinate emergency supplies of pharmaceuticals among their institutions, 
    • Administrators fully involve pharmacy directors in emergency-planning efforts, and 
    • Emergency-preparedness planners keep pharmacists "in the loop" in planning for the deployment of pharmaceutical stockpiles.

ASHP is the 31,000-member national professional association that represents pharmacists who practice in hospitals, health maintenance organizations, long-term care facilities, home care, and other components of health care systems. ASHP, which has a long history of medication error prevention efforts, believes that the mission of pharmacists is to help people make the best use of medicines. Assisting pharmacists in fulfilling this mission is ASHP's primary objective. The Society has extensive publishing and educational programs designed to help members improve their delivery of pharmaceutical care, and it is the national accrediting organization for pharmacy residency and pharmacy technician training programs.