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Coronavirus: Impact on the Operation of Pharmacies 

by Eduardo Nogueira Pinto, Eliana Bernardo, Rúben do Carmo Pereira

Published: March, 2020

Submission: April, 2020

 



Faced with the COVID-19 pandemic, the Portuguese National Authority for Medicines and Healthcare Products (“INFARMED”) and the Directorate-General for Health (“DGS”) have issued guidelines for pharmacies. These guidelines address, in particular, the way pharmacies operate and manage medicines.


Faced with the COVID-19 pandemic, the Portuguese National Authority for Medicines and Healthcare Products (“INFARMED”) and the Directorate-General for Health (“DGS”) have issued guidelines for pharmacies. These guidelines address, in particular, the way pharmacies operate and manage medicines.


Technical guidelines have been issued that cover several essential aspects of the operations of pharmacies. These include guidelines on technical management, opening hours, temporary closure, supply of medicines, patient service, and dispensing of medicines in the pharmacy and at home.


Accordingly:


• The technical management can be provided by a pharmacist who is not a member of the staff of the pharmacy if the usual technical director or pharmacist cannot do this. In these situations, the pharmacist who provides the technical management is responsible for supervising the operations of the pharmacy and its properly qualified staff.


• Pharmacy staff may not be available due to the COVID-19 outbreak. Therefore, to ensure compliance with the approved opening hours, the pharmacy can introduce different opening times that ensure the daily operation of the pharmacy and coverage in the locality. The new opening hours must be displayed clearly in and outside the pharmacy. They must also subsequently be communicated to INFARMED using the website Portal Licenciamento+.


It may become impossible for a pharmacy to remain open due to a lack of pharmacists or professional staff and the inability to replace them with external personnel. If this happens, it must notify INFARMED about the need for temporary closure using the website Portal Licenciamento+.


• The supply of medicinal products to pharmacies should be preceded by additional hygiene measures. Whenever possible, the staff of the distributor/stockist must make their delivery of the order without going into the pharmacy. In addition, they must take steps to clean and disinfect the delivery crates of medicines and healthcare products before going into the pharmacy.


With regard to serving patients, it is important to note the following:


In places where there is only one pharmacy within a radius of 2 km, it is recommended that the pharmacy should dispense medicines through the service hatch or, if there is no service hatch, without the patients coming into the pharmacy.


• Pharmacies can dispense medicines through the patient service hatch. They can also ask patients to take a service ticket and then wait to be called in an area marked out for this purpose or outside the pharmacy.


• All pharmacies are under an obligation to provide priority service, in an organised way, with respect for the rules of hygiene and safety, to certain groups of people: These groups are: (i) the over-70s, (ii) people with weakened immune systems or chronic diseases, including hypertension, diabetes, cardiovascular disease, chronic respiratory disease, and cancer, (iii) healthcare professionals, (iv) members of the security, civil protection and emergency services, (v) members of the armed forces, and (vi) people who provide social support services. Information on this priority service must be displayed clearly and visibly.


To read the article in full, go here


 



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