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The Pharmacy Business in Southeast Europe – New Trends in Community Pharmacy

The Pharmacy Business in Southeast Europe – New Trends in Community Pharmacy

PLIVA, a member of the Teva Group, organised the SEE Pharmacy Forum, which took place in Split from 21 to 23 October 2013. The biggest regional pharmacy conference organised so far brought together about 200 pharmacists from Slovenia, Serbia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Kosovo, Macedonia and Croatia.

Health care and patient wellbeing is the common effort of all healthcare participants, e.g. physicians, pharmacists, pharmaceutical industry, insurance funds and  patients themselves. To further contribute to this effort, PLIVA and Teva decided to organise the SEE Pharmacy Forum and analyse current trends and development opportunities in community pharmacy, an important link in the healthcare chain.

Changes in the environment, scientific progress and new technologies, achievements and new knowledge in medicine and the pharmaceutical industry, and a greater amount of information available to patients and customers, bring about a number of challenges to pharmacists across Europe and on the global level. While they share some of these challenges, other challenges are specific for our region, consisting of countries which already are or will eventually become EU members.

The future of the pharmacy profession, the changing role of pharmacists, new services to be provided in pharmacies, patient perception of pharmacists, education required by pharmacists, the role of a personal pharmacist and lifelong learning, and the role of insurance funds and national regulatory authorities in the improvement of the pharmacy business, are just some of the topics discussed during this three-day Forum. We are witnessing major changes in pharmacy, such as continuous pressure on cutting down healthcare budgets, demand for innovative business practices in pharmacy, an ageing population requiring additional healthcare services, and increasingly knowledgeable patients.

The topics that attracted the greatest interest included: Community pharmacy in EU; How national regulators can assure competency and service developments in pharmacy; A Slovakian experience or a transition county with new pharmacy services, and Pharmacy care and services in community pharmacy. These topics were presented by John Chave from the Pharmaceutical Group of the European Union (PGEU), Lorraine Horgan from the Pharmaceutical Society of Ireland; Štefan Krchňák, from the Slovak Chamber of Pharmacists, and James Davies from the Company Chemists Association, UK. The participants could also learn about the practices and experiences of other countries from Miran Golub, MPharm, President of the Slovene Chamber of Pharmacy, Sanja Jović, MPharm, spec., President of the Management Board of the Serbian Chamber of Pharmacists and Mate Portolan, MPharm, President of the Croatian Chamber of Pharmacists. Siniša Varga, DDM, Head of the Croatian Health Insurance Fund, also held an interesting presentation on the development of pharmacy services, reassignment of roles and responsibilities within the primary healthcare system and the role of the Croatian Health Insurance Fund.

PLIVA presented its healthcare portals www.PLIVAmed.net and www.PLIVAzdravlje.hr which may be useful to both pharmacists and physicians. All papers, presentations and survey results will be published after the Forum.

Tihomir Orešković, President of PLIVA’s Management Board, said: "I have so far noticed that Southeast European countries share a number of common issues and dilemmas despite many regulatory differences. The exchange of experiences and systematic education may improve patient services, and contribute to a faster development of the pharmaceutical profession and to its better response to different constraints in the environment."

James Davies, MPharm. PhD. MRPharmS., Company Chemists Association, UK: "The challenges for pharmacists are similar across Europe and it's fantastic that PLIVA has managed to bring so many pharmacists from SEE together. There are many opportunities for the delivering of health through pharmacists in Croatia and there is much that we can learn from each other."

John Chave, Secretary General, Pharmaceutical Group of the European Union (PGEU), said: “Pharmacists are still an underused resource. The development of new pharmacy services will help pharmacists make an even greater contribution to tackling key public health challenges such as adherent to medication and management of chronic diseases."

Mate Portolan, MPharm, President of the Croatian Chamber of Pharmacists, emphasized: "It was extremely useful to learn about the challenges faced by our colleagues in the neighbouring countries and about the practice of some other EU countries, e.g. Ireland, United Kingdom or Slovakia. In Croatia, we keep abreast of developments in the pharmacy business in other countries and try to adopt best practices in a continuously changing healthcare system in the Republic of Croatia while trying to avoid other people’s mistakes."

Sanja Jović, MPharm, spec., President of the Management Board of the Serbian Chamber of Pharmacists and Director of Quality Department, Apoteka Beograd, also emphasised the importance of this Forum as an important meeting point of pharmacy professionals, adding that “as a healthcare institution, the pharmacy is in a specific position because it has to use different modern management skills and tools to both pursue the mission of the pharmacy and to perform successfully. Although the pharmacy becomes increasingly market focused and operates in line with stringent legal regulations, the ethical principles and good pharmacy practice put the wellbeing of patients/customers before profit”.

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