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Annual report 2018

Successful health-care services in pharmacies

In January 2008, the report "Health-care services in pharmacies" was published. A project group set up by the Norwegian Pharmacy Association identified possible services and critical success factors. At the same time, the Norwegian Directorate of Health made an investigation related to health-care services in pharmacies and their report made clear recommendations.

Ten years after, we can say that one of these services really has become a success. So far, more than 150,000 Norwegian patients have received inhalation guidance. In 2018 over 55,000 checked their inhalation technique at the pharmacy.

Read CEO Per T. Lund's summary of 2018. 

The ten-year-old idea of medicine conversations in pharmacies, has been tested in various variants, and is a precursor to today's New Medicine Service. May 2nd, 2018 was an anniversary day, both for us working in the pharmacy industry, but also for the patients, when the first guidance consultation was completed.

Throughout eight months, 5000 guidance consultations have been carried out in pharmacies. We know that many patients struggle with compliance. Some people forget to take their new medicine, some take twice as much as they should, and some stop taking the medicine without talking to their physician. These situations are clear evidences for the need for New Medicine Service.

I am incredibly proud of how fast and successful the training of certified pharmacists has been.

According to an internal survey, 60 per cent of the Norwegian pharmacies have two or three pharmacists certified for the service. A certified pharmacist has completed the necessary training and can execute the guidance consultation. Being a certified pharmacist requires both good knowledge of specific medicines and good communication skills.

At Arendalsuka, the largest political gathering in Norway, influenza vaccination was put on the agenda. According to The Norwegian Institute of Public Health more people must be vaccinated to reach the national target of 75 percent vaccine coverage in the risk groups. Vaccination in pharmacies will be an important contribution to getting closer to this goal. With the foundation we have laid in 2018, I expect that the conditions have been facilitated for a simple and effective vaccine service in pharmacies from 2019.

The margins on prescription drugs have been reduced several times in recent years. At the same time the pricing-model have changed. In 2018, The pharmacy association had regular contact with political authorities and professional authorities on possible changes. We also have the necessary tools to document the development and effects of such political decisions.

We have also proposed a sketch of a new advance model for medical devices (such as stoma care and incontinence products). Tasks performed by a minority pharmacy, which has special expertise, especially in the stoma area, should have their own price-model.

This year, I look forward to even more guidance consultations and vaccinations in the pharmacies! 

Facts and figures

934 pharmacies

There are 5 670 inhabitants per pharmacy in Norway

171 000 customers each day

Over 53,1 million customer visits

6884 man year

Among these 3513 are pharmacists

Launch of New Medicine Start

On May 2nd the New Medicine Start was launched. The current Secretary of State for Health and Care Services, Line Miriam Sandberg, opened the first guidance consultation between a certified pharmacist and a heart patient.

At the end of the year, around 5,000 conversations were completed. Most of the patients are between 55 and 89 years of age. Throughout the conversations, it has been discovered that many patients struggle with compliance. Some patients forget to start on their new medication, some take two equal medicines at the same time and some stop taking the medication without talking to their doctor.


55 800 checked their inhalation technique

Inhalation guidance in a pharmacy means that the patient shows his inhalation technique and is advised by a certified pharmacist if something that can be improved is discovered. Through inhalation guidance, the patient should know how and when to use the inhalation medication. In 2018, 55 824 patients received inhalation guidance.

In 2018, the Norwegian evaluation study of Inhalation Guidance was published in "Patient Education and Counseling". The study showed that 7 out of 10 patients make critical mistakes when they inhale their medications. Wrong technique may affect the effect of the medicine. With inhalation guidance 9 out of 10 do it properly.

Vaccination in pharmacies

In 2018, the Pharmacy Association continued to promote the role of pharmacies in influenza vaccination. The Norwegian Institute of Public Health (Fhi) has a goal of increasing the degree of vaccination in the population. The pharmacies can contribute to this. From autumn 2018, 260 pharmacies now offer influenza vaccination to increase the availability.

The employees at the pharmacies have high medicine-competence and meet people in the target groups daily. In addition, pharmacies are open when other health services usually are closed. Hence, the pharmacies may play an important role in vaccination the public - without extra investment costs for the authorities.

This was also done

Avoiding falsified medicines

The Falsified Medicines Directive (FMD) contains new requirements for safety devices on medicine packages to avoid falsified medicines. In 2019, all Norwegian pharmacies are required to check the status of prescription drugs against a new national database. To do this, the pharmacies have implemented systems that can read 2D matrix codes.

In 2018, the Norwegian Pharmacy Association and the Pharmaceutical Wholesale Association implemented a joint project to meet the requirements of the EU directive. Through the FMD project, the pharmacy's computer system, FarmaPro, has been upgraded so that all pharmacies in Norway have a common solution where the medicines can be verified. The pharmacy association has also prepared a standard for handling medicines that are subject to requirements for safety devices.

Specialized professional system under development

In 2018, the functionality that should be part of the new industry solution (Eik) for pharmacies were described. The first part of Eik was introduced in the autumn of 2018 so that the piloting of the Falsified Medicines Directive could be initiated. Oak should be common to all pharmacies, but pharmacies / chains should facilitate their own user experience.

The collaboration on Eik is an important prerequisite for being able to adapt to digital development. Eik will facilitate communication with public systems and registers, as well as improve the interaction between pharmacies. With Eik, the information following the patient and pharmacy employees can use the information as a basis for health care across the pharmacies. In this way, patients will receive equal treatment regardless of where they are located

What the customers think

Location is important

8 out of 10 believe location is most important when choosing a pharmacy

Unsolicited information

3 out of 4 receive unsolicited information on how to use their medicines

Presription medicines

6 out of 10 were at the pharmacy to collect prescription medicines

National information campaign on generic substitution

In collaboration with the pharmacies and the generic suppliers, the Pharmacy Association followed-up last year's information campaign on generic exchange. New of the year was an information film where the well-known Cardiologist Wasim Zahid explained that it is safe to switch to a cheaper drug and that as a physician, he is concerned about the active substance in the medicine, not the name of the medicine.
The film was shown on Facebook, Instagram and as ads on various websites. In addition, an information brochure was prepared for use in pharmacies. The goal of the campaign was to get more patients to switch to an equivalent drug when asked in the pharmacy. The results show that the films received over 800,000 views.

When writing a prescription on a medication, it is the effect the doctor is concerned with. The same medicine can be produced by several companies, and the medicines get different names. The medicines may also have different shape and color, but the active substance is always the same. Pharmacists are experts in pharmaceuticals. If they suggest a change, it's because they know the substitution is equally good. In addition, the Norwegian Medicines Agency (Statens Legemiddelverk) guarantees that medicines on the generic substitution list have the same effect.

Pharmacy education and recruitment

Still, there is a general lack of pharmacists in Norway. Hence, pharmacies struggle to attract the best candidates. The Norwegian Pharmacy Association has for a long time worked for youngster tp choose pharmacy education. Every year the Norwegian Pharmacy Association conducts a student recruitment campaign, to attract more applicants for pharmacy education. The Norwegian website www.farmasifag.no and the Facebook page «Farmasifag» are part of the campaign. In 2017, there was a very welcomed increase. In total there were 2,767 qualified pharmacy applicants to 292 available seats. 

Pharmacies offer good job opportunities, good salary and the ability to work all over the country.

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