A programme that has improved the quality of medicines compounded in community pharmacies in Belgium is the joint winner of the International Pharmaceutical Federation (FIP) Pharmacy Practice Improvement Award for 2020. The award to the Association of Pharmacists Belgium (APB) was announced at FIP Virtual 2020.
Medicines are compounded daily in community pharmacies in Belgium. While pharmacists generally follow quality assurance (QA) guidelines, before the APB project they had limited information on the quality of the medicines prepared and, because QA testing can be destructive, they were not best equipped to undertake such testing. The APB set up a novel National Quality Improvement Programme for Compounded Medicines, agreed with the Belgian Ministry of Public Health and Social Affairs. It is run in close collaboration with the Federal Agency for Medicines and Health Products and consists of a quality control system for pharmacy preparations and support for pharmacists.
Pharmacies volunteer to compound a specific formulation from an APB list and send it to the association for analysis, which includes physicochemical testing, content uniformity, dosage, microbiological purity and sterility. Product labelling and documentation are also assessed. Structured feedback is provided to the pharmacy and aggregated and anonymised results are published monthly.
One in five pharmacies in Belgium has already participated in the programme, which has identified that although pharmacists score well with some preparations, for others up to a third are underdosed or have other non-conformities. This has led to the optimisation of preparation protocols as well as corrections to the country’s Therapeutic Magistral Formulary.
APB president Mr Lieven Zwaenepoel said:
“Pharmacy compounding may be perceived by some to be an obsolete activity, but APB strongly believes that this decade will be remembered as the revival of the compounding pharmacist in response to societal needs, which include new dosage forms such as biodegradable oral films, production of solid oral dosage forms by 3D printing and the use of pharmacogenetic information to adapt dosages for individuals. It’s an honour to receive this global award, particularly for our laboratory and science department, which led the project.”