The role of the pharmacist in public health continues to evolve. This evolution is establishing the pharmacist, especially the community-based pharmacist, as essential to the identification of potential public health threats through his or her competency to determine patient trends and effectively communicate those trends to public health agencies. Pharmacists in ambulatory and inpatient settings are effective public health advocates as they work with general and disease-specific patient populations. The ability to effectively communicate population health information is supported by both professional and educational documents outlining the role of the pharmacist in public health.1-4
The pharmacist is distinguished from other health professionals by this educational and professional commitment towards medication effectiveness and safety, including all aspects of medication literacy associated with appropriate use. This focus on the public health impact of medication use creates substantial opportunity for partnering the pharmacist's public health competencies with the missions of federal public health agencies.
During the development of legislation that created the FDA Amendments Act (FDAAA) of 2007, AACP actively engaged in the education of members of Congress, their staff and the FDA. This education focused on the opportunity for the public health mission of the FDA to be strengthened in partnership with academic pharmacy. The AACP issue paper developed to address the FDA legislation included the following:
“Academic pharmacy faculty are exceptionally positioned to help the FDA “keep pace with the rapid evolution of science, technology and the health care system…”Part of the medication safety equation is the appropriate oversight of manufacturers, prescribers, and patients by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). There is ample empirical and anecdotal evidence that the FDA is currently at a disadvantage in its ability to provide sufficient oversight. Clinical trials are fraught with problems, scientific integrity of clinical trials is often challenged, and little or no post-marketing evaluation of drugs occurs – all of which increase the risks for drug misadventures.”
As a result the FDAAA includes several provisions that direct the FDA to seek the input of “academic institutions.” This report is an opportunity to determine current and future roles of the academy and our graduates in ensuring the FDA is competent and efficient in meeting its public health mission.
The FDA's current strategic action plan focuses on four strategic goals:
- strengthening the FDA,
- improving patient and consumer safety,
- increasing access to new medical and food products,
- improving the safety and quality of manufactured products and the supply chain.
FDA leadership has undertaken specific measures to address each of these strategic goals. AACP is uniquely positioned to impact and directly influence pharmacy colleges’ view and integration of these key topics within their organization's work plans. For each FDA goal, the current report summarizes the evidence that that academy is or is not actively engaged in areas relevant to the goal. In areas where engagement is not currently evident, recommendations are made as to whether the academy should be involved. Where it is concluded that the academy should be engaged in areas relevant to the goal, recommendations are made regarding future steps of the academy.
Overall, the committee believes that the academy is engaged to varying degrees in many activities relevant to each of the FDA's strategic goals. However, the committee also believes that the academy must become increasingly and more visibly engaged in these activities. We agree that the academy should promote what we have to offer and what opportunities are available for our members to contribute to improving access and safety.