Pharmacists could be an “invaluable” asset to vets and GPs by alleviating workload and acting as a bridge between the professions to signpost clients and share public health messages.

“Some vets have already identified that pharmacists could be an invaluable asset to their business.” Image © Kadmy / fotolia.

“A number of practices are recognising the value of the veterinary pharmacist in the interdisciplinary team,” said Alison Pyatt, senior lecturer and course manager in postgraduate and undergraduate veterinary pharmacy at Harper Adams University in Shropshire – the only institution that offers the qualification.

“Practices specialising in companion animal, farm and equine are realising they need someone capable of managing a large dispensary and the best person for that is someone who is pharmacy trained.

“It is and always will be a niche area, but we’ve seen pharmacy develop rapidly over the past few years, possibly because of quite dramatic changes to veterinary practice business models.”

Extensive knowledge

Ms Pyatt believes the concept of in-house pharmacists should be embraced by vets and will become more common as the benefits of having them are recognised.

“Some vets have already identified that pharmacists could be an invaluable asset to their business,” Ms Pyatt added.

“Pharmacists are trained to deal with veterinary and human medicines and have extensive knowledge of pharmaceutical products, so are often best placed to help in multidisciplinary teams.”

‘Foot in both camps’

Ms Pyatt added: “The pharmacist is the bridge between human and veterinary medicine – the interlocking professional with a foot in both camps. They have a unique status, but many people have yet to cotton on to that fact.

“We talk about the concept of public and one health and zoonotic disease, which are all extremely important, but the person in the middle who can help spread the messages and oversee both sides is the pharmacist.”

However, Ms Pyatt stressed only fully trained pharmacists could legally act on certain prescriptions.

She said: “The pharmacy degree doesn’t have the time or scope to go into depth about veterinary medicines, so while graduates can legally be involved in the supply of certain medicines, they don’t necessarily have the training or confidence to do so – and they wouldn’t unless they had further training because if they make a mistake the ramifications would be serious.”

  • Read the full story in the 19 December issue of Veterinary Times.
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