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Shortage of Pharmacists in State-Run Hospitals

Addressing the shortage of pharmacists in hospital is of significance with the increase in the number of hospital beds by 24,000 at the end of the current administration’s term in mid-summer
There are about 20,000 university graduates in pharmacy, 18,000 of whom are working as professionals.There are about 20,000 university graduates in pharmacy, 18,000 of whom are working as professionals.

There should be at least one pharmacist for every 30 beds in each hospital. Presently, there is one pharmacist for every 100 hospital beds in Iran, according to Rasoul Dinarvand, head of the Food and Drug Administration.

There are about 700 pharmacists at 580 state-run hospitals out of the total 900 in the country, he said, ISNA reported. Although there is a big shortage of hospital pharmacists in state-owned medical facilities, the number has seen a slight increase over the past 6 months.

In December 2016, Dinarvand announced there was one pharmacist per 115 hospital beds. “This number should at least quadruple,” he had then stressed. There are 120,000 hospital beds at present in the country, (from 97,000 in 2012) which is projected to reach 121,000 by July.

Hospital pharmacists provide, prepare and dispense medicines, special feeding solutions and diagnostic agents. They also consult doctors about the correct dosage and appropriate form and time of administration, and inform physicians about any possible adverse reactions.

“Hospital pharmacists work with different types of medications than retail pharmacists,” Dinarvand said. “For instance, they provide IV drugs that need careful preparation with precision, mixing and checking for every individual patient, which is not possible with retailers.”

While most hospital pharmacists do not have as much patient contact as their retail counterparts, they do have significant contact with other healthcare providers, such as nurses, doctors and radiologists. They may also be involved in deciding which drugs will be supplied by the pharmacy.

There are about 20,000 university graduates in pharmacy, 18,000 of whom are working as professionals.

Having pharmacists in hospitals is cost-effective and saves time for the patients. “They could be instrumental in the 90 hospitals that offer chemotherapy to cancer patients,” the FDA official said, referring to the inadequate number of pharmacists in cancer hospitals.

Addressing the shortage of pharmacists in hospital is of significance with the increase in the number of hospital beds by 24,000 at the end of the current administration’s term in mid-summer, said Dinarvand.

Given the recent increase in the admission capacity for this major, it is expected that the number would reach 30,000 graduates per year in 2025,” he said  earlier.

“We are trying to eliminate employment in this field by creating more capacities in industrial pharmacy.”

There is no more shortage in drug supply in the country, and the pharmaceutical industry is stable, he asserted.

  Essential Medicines

“Almost all essential medicines are now available in the market, and no problems exist regarding international payment,” Dr. Ebrahim Hashemi, managing director of Ferdows Distribution Company – a leading private sector pharmaceutical distribution company – told Financial Tribune on Monday.

“If a drug is not imported it is because the locally produced equivalent exists, and current policies call for supporting domestic production,” he added.

About 96% of the domestic demand for medicine is met by 62 local pharmaceutical companies. Except for a few extremely rare drugs, which could be the case anywhere across the world, the domestic market is self-reliant.

Each year, $250 million is spent for production of medications, including import of raw materials and packaging. Currently, around 2,200 medicines are produced locally and 690 are imported.

Expenditure on imports that have equivalents in the domestic pharmaceutical sector has been reduced from $600 million in 2012 to $200 million in 2015, with the aim to support domestic production.

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