Home' Australian Pharmacist : Australian Pharmacist July 2015 Contents Australian Pharmacist July 2015 I © Pharmaceutical Society of Australia Ltd.
‘First do no harm’.
This phrase, attributed to the 19th
Century surgeon Thomas Inman,
reflects an equivalent phrase found
in Epidemics, Book I of the Hippocratic
School: ‘Practise two things in your
dealings with disease: either help or do
not harm the patient’.
Pharmacists have always had an
important role in reducing patient
harm from medication misadventures.
Now they have a new role.
Delivering pharmaceutical care
contributes to climate change
(e.g. through the embedded carbon
in the manufacture and distribution of
medicines, disposal of waste, and energy
and water use),2 which in turn has a
negative impact on health.
argues a moral and ethical obligation by
pharmacists, to deliver pharmaceutical
care more sustainably – do no harm.
Sustainability ‘... is concerned, on one
hand, with resources and how we can
preserve them, and, on the other hand,
with waste products and how we can
best reduce or dispose of them.’
It is about preserving and nurturing
Earth’s resources and systems for this
generation and future generations to
enjoy. Pharmacists play an important role
in preventive health strategies such as
smoking cessation, promoting healthier
lifestyles and vaccination/immunisation
programs and have the potential to
also play a significant role in delivering
pharmaceutical care more sustainably.
Sustainable pharmaceutical care may
be considered a virtuous cycle – what is
good for the environment is also
good for our health.
The good news
for community pharmacy owners
and managers is that implementing
sustainability initiatives in the pharmacy
can also have significant financial
Where to start?
The thought of implementing changes
to work practices when the pharmacy
working day is usually frenetic, can be
daunting. Fortunately, over the past
decade much work has been done
in the area of sustainable healthcare
with some excellent websites and
networks available to help business
owners and healthcare professionals
implement sustainability into their daily
operations (a few examples are listed
below). Sustainability experts agree
that the best way to start implementing
sustainable practices into your business
is to start with low-hanging fruit that
provide immediate benefits e.g. energy
consumption, then as you embed
sustainability into your workplace
culture move towards other areas.
Reducing energy consumption in
the pharmacy makes good financial
sense. Energy conservation initiatives
include changing all lighting over to
LED lighting and improving the use
of natural lighting where possible.
Good for the
BY JUDITH SINGLETON, PHARMACY LECTURER, QUEENSLAND UNIVERSITY
» BE OUR GUEST
At night, only leave on lights required
for security purposes and turn off all
equipment including computers not just
at the terminal but also at the power
point. Check the energy efficiency of
the pharmacy’s refrigerators – even
the smallest refrigerator can use a
lot of power. In summer, keep the air
conditioning at a minimum of 23oC.
If you own the premises you could
consider solar energy panels. A good
example of the use of ‘green’ technology
in a pharmacy is Walgreen’s Net Zero
Energy Pharmacy in Evanston Illinois.
Walgreens obviously has the financial
resources to be able to build such a
pharmacy but it is now recouping its
initial outlay with the pharmacy drawing
no power from the grid.
Sustainable waste initiatives
encompass paper and packaging
waste, general waste and medicines
waste. Placing separate recycling bins
for clean paper and general recyclable
packaging waste in convenient locations
in the pharmacy will help to encourage
recycling behaviours. Having a ‘green’
champion in the pharmacy to encourage
good recycling behaviours and also
having these bins emptied regularly
is also important. Approach suppliers
to reduce the amount of packaging
that comes with products – reducing
waste is equally as important as waste
handling. Reduce the amount of
unnecessary printing – consider using
‘green’ carry bags rather than plastic
bags and promote to customers as
being beneficial to the environment.
Provide paper bags that are made from
recycled paper and minimise their use.
Pharmaceutical waste in the community
can be reduced by encouraging
medication adherence and discouraging
hoarding or obtaining unnecessary
medicines simply because the safety
net limit has been reached or the doctor
has written repeats on the prescription.
Encourage customers to bring in any
unwanted medicines to be disposed of
in the pharmacy’s RUM bins. Also ensure
uncollected antibiotic syrups or other
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