SARS-CoV-2 that emerged in the central Chinese city of Wuhan in late December 2019 caused a highly transmittable and pathogenic viral respiratory tract infection designated as ‘COVID-19’.Till date the effect of covid-19 has increased to such extent that it has uprooted the largest economies of the world of developing and developed countries as well. More than 200 countries worldwide are affected with this deadly virus. People are at their home, completely lockdown situation in most of the countries.
At time when people are at their home to protect themselves, the health care providers, doctors, nurses and pharmacists are there in the field and fighting for us. More appropriate word is a soldier for them and we all shall be using this term for them because as our army people fight with the enemies at the borders to protect us likewise these health care providers have become true soldiers for us, fighting for well-being of the sufferers at the cost of their lives. At time when we are living with bit of scarcity of daily needs but are comfortable at our places, they are sacrificing their family life too.Pharmacist, a major player of health care team, playing a crucial role against this pandemic in hospitals, R & D, pharmaceutical companies and also at community level.
It’s not wrong to quote here that the wave of this pandemic has moved the underestimated role of pharmacist to a different direction, particularly in India where the role of pharmacist was believed to be limited to dispensing and compounding of drugs only. Today the entire world is dependent on pharmacist to provide them health care facilities in order to fight against the COVID‐19. The role the pharmacist in this war against covid-19 is just like an armature provider without whom the war cannot be won.
Pharmacists has an essential and unique role to play within the healthcare team to optimize patient care during this COVID‐19 pandemic. In lieu of antivirals with established efficacy for COVID‐19, novel investigational agents are currently being evaluated in controlled studies worldwide for the prophylaxis and treatment of COVID‐19. A lot of experimental studies are going on for its treatment as no agents are currently FDA‐approved for the same. The role of pharmacist is essential in facilitating investigational drug studies in health care systems.
Drugs such as Remdesivir,lopinavir/ritonavir, chloroquine, and hydroxychloroquine; or may be immune‐modulating agents etc., which are used for some other indications are of great interest for repurposing for COVID‐19 treatment. But data supporting the use of these agents are often limited to in vitro studies, animal models, or case series. Here the pharmacists play an imperative role in reviewing and interpreting this information to the physicians, particularly when in such pandemic situation where doctorsare experiencing increased patient volume and thus may have limited time to read and evaluate new data as they are published.
Pharmacist’s plays an important role in providing accurate data to the providers about safe drug delivery, drug‐drug interactions, drug-food interaction, adverse effects etc.Patientbecomes panic and depressed in such adverse situation thus their appropriate counsellingis utmost important responsibility of the pharmacist.One of the fundamental roles of pharmacists is to ensure the availability and timely provision of the safest and most effective therapy. Thus, planning for, identifying and mitigating thedrug shortages during the COVID‐19 pandemic is crucial for pharmacist to fulfil.
Role of pharmacist is also imperative in educating thepatients and the public on effective strategies to prevent acquisition and further spread of infection, e.g., optimal hand hygiene, social distancing, staying home if having respiratory symptoms etc.
Lastly, nobody knows how long the pandemic will last and to what extent this is going to affect the entire world. Pharmacists, as an important pillar of health care system, plays a key role as the drug information expert in evaluating literature related to new or repurposed therapies and can facilitate system‐level and patient‐specific treatment decisions, as well as ensure access to these therapies and other drugs on shortage due the pandemic. By serving as a resource to physicians and other medical providers, patients, and the public, and by manufacturing the drugs of need for COVID-19 and fulfilling their demand in this drastic condition, pharmacists are essential in mitigating adverse consequences due to the COVID‐19 pandemic.
Dr. Rekha Bisht
Indore Institute of Pharmacy