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France Hosts International Pharmacists Group

Cheryl A. Thompson

The southeastern coast of France played host, August 31 through September 5, to more than 2500 people from 95 countries who came for the annual convention of the International Pharmaceutical Federation (FIP) and the World Congress of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences 2002. Programs for this year’s event in Nice were planned around the main theme of Safe Systems, Safe Treatment, and Safe Patients and, as is the tradition of the congress, each program involved an international array of speakers.

FIP Council’s actions. Delegates to the FIP Council voted to adopt a statement addressing the professional standards for continuing professional development. Central to FIP’s statement is the principle that all health professionals have a "fundamental ethical requirement" to maintain competence throughout their career. Further, continuing professional development is more than participation in continuing education, "which, on its own, does not necessarily lead to positive changes in professional practice nor does it necessarily improve healthcare outcomes." FIP, through the statement, recommends that national pharmaceutical associations promote continuing professional development and, when appropriate, do so in cooperation with pharmacy schools.

Continuing Professional Development

According to FIP's statement, continuing professional development must be an ongoing, cyclical process that includes

  • Self-appraisal of learning and development needs, 
  • Construction of a personal plan to meet those needs,  
  • Participation in various structured learning programs (e.g., presentations, teaching, mentoring, workshops, self-study),  
  • Documentation of those activities, and  
  • Evaluation of the resultant improvemnts in professional practice.

ASHP Executive Vice President Henri R. Manasse, Jr., said nations other than the United States, primarily the British Commonwealth countries, have been leading the call for continuing professional development. He and ASHP President Debra S. Devereaux represented the Society during the FIP Council’s meetings.

Manasse said that the American Council on Pharmaceutical Education and the ASHP Council on Educational Affairs have been wrestling with the issue of continuing professional development, as did the National Association of Boards of Pharmacy several years ago when it tried to institute a single competency test for all practitioners. To U.S. pharmacists, he said, FIP’s statement advances the idea that "continuing education ought per se not be measured by the number of units that you accumulate by going to [pharmacist organization] meetings, which may or may not be relevant to your competency expectation, but how you continuously enhance your capacity to perform your job." A pharmacist who wants to show proof of competence in pediatric pharmacy practice, for example, would assemble a portfolio documenting completion of formal course work, presentation of cases involving pediatric patients, and support from pediatrician colleagues.

The definition of FIP member organization, critical to the federation’s mission to represent pharmacy and pharmaceutical sciences worldwide, garnered so much controversy during the business meetings that the council established a task force to further examine the issue. Manasse, who was appointed to the task force, said the current definition leaves out educational, regulatory, and some specialty organizations, such as those representing chain drugstores, mail-order pharmacies, and pharmacy benefit management companies. Some countries’ delegates to FIP "are very afraid of change," he said. "The biggest concern is that we would bring people into the fold who really don’t have the profession at heart."

Delegates elected a new FIP president, Jean Parrot, a French pharmacist who ran unopposed. John A. Gans, executive vice president of the American Pharmaceutical Association, was reelected as one of three FIP vice presidents.

World Health Organization’s projects. FIP is continuing its project with the World Health Organization (WHO) to develop modules of policies and training tools to help pharmacists care for AIDS patients and prevent the disease’s spread. The modules are in draft form and will be field-tested next year.

Five of six world regions have FIP-supported pharmaceutical forums in place to promote regional projects between national pharmacy associations and WHO. "Of immense concern," said Manasse, is the delay in formation of the FIP–WHO Forum of Pharmaceutical Associations in Africa, where the large number of countries and languages makes communication difficult.

During the congress, WHO launched its model formulary, described as the first publication to provide comprehensive information on all 325 medications in the WHO Model List of Essential Drugs. The formulary is intended primarily for the governments of developing countries, where health care professionals tend not to have access to unbiased information on drug products, according to WHO.

Board of Pharmaceutical Practice’s programs. Among the five symposia organizedby the FIP Board of PharmaceuticalPractice was one on regulatory activities and their relationship to professional competency, chaired by Manasse. Philip J. Schneider, a past president of ASHP who is also secretary of the FIP Hospital Pharmacy Section, discussed ways that U.S. pharmacists can maintain their competency to practice pharmacy. Manasse said that, unlike the U.S. government, the national governments of many other countries regulate pharmacy and other professions.

At the symposium on pharmacists, technicians, and machines, ASHP staff member Lisa Lifshin, who coordinates technician program development for the Society, described the safety issues that must be considered when employing pharmacy technicians to dispense medications. Harold Godwin, a past president of ASHP who is with the University of Kansas in Lawrence, discussed the impact of automation on drug dispensing and distribution. 

Hospital Pharmacy Section’s activities.The section conducted three programs related to the main theme of the congress.

Thomas S. Thielke, a past president of ASHP who is also president of the FIP Hospital Pharmacy Section, chaired the program on worldwide biotechnology. Robert T. Dorr, with the University of Arizona in Tucson, spoke on the past, present, and future of pharmaceutical technology. Jill M. Kolesar, with the University of Wisconsin in Madison, described the clinical applications of the hematopoietic growth factors.

During the program that focused on patients’ safety during drug administration, Russell J. Jensen described how point-of-care bedside documentation systems reduce medication errors at his facility, St. Mary’s Hospital Medical Center in Madison, Wisconsin.

Toby Clark, North American vice president for the Hospital Pharmacy Section, chaired the program in which the speakers discussed whether pharmacists, technicians, or machines hold the biggest promise for improving the safety of the medication-use process. ASHP Treasurer Marianne Ivey spoke on the future patient-safety roles that hospital pharmacists will hold beyond dispensing. Clark said the speaker from Japan, Kazuo Matsubara, described a completely computerized automated dispensing system that has been in operation for more than five years. Speaker Etienne Schmitt, from France, noted that the United States employs a considerably greater number of nurses, pharmacists, and pharmacy technicians per patient than does Europe, Clark said, but Europe does a better job of improving patients’ quality and length of life and achieves this at less cost. Europe, he noted, tends to treat its younger population more aggressively than older persons.

More than 600 posters on pharmaceutical science and practice-related research were presented, with about 74 from the Hospital Pharmacy Section, Clark said. Relatively high numbers of posters were presented by Scandinavian and Japanese attendees, he added.

Section members elected Roger Tredree as the new president. Tredree, from the United Kingdom, had been the treasurer. Billy W. Woodward, with Scott and White Hospital, Clinic, Health Plan in Temple, Texas, was elected treasurer. Clark was reelected as a vice president. Thielke, having finished his term as president, is now the immediate past president. Schneider continues his term as secretary.

Young pharmacists’ forum. The FIP Young Pharmacists Group gathered to discuss lifelong learning. Daniella Zammit, a graduate student at the University of Southern California in Los Angeles, is the group’s new president.

Sydney in 2003. The 2003 congress, planned around the theme "Developing a New Contract between Pharmacy and Society," will occur in Sydney, Australia, from September 4 through 9. In 2004, the United States will host the congress in New Orleans.