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The supply of medicines outside hospitals: what should we expect from our pharmaceutical services?


Drug treatment begins with the decision to prescribe a medicine. When the prescription has been written, the medicine must be dispensed for the patient who must then use it as instructed. The doctor pays most attention to the first of these steps, which involves him directly. He may also consider what will happen subsequently, but often does so rather cursorily, and much treatment is less effective than it should be because something unforeseen happens after the patient has been given the prescription. The pharmacist’s role here, as in mediating and regulating self-medication, is usually taken for granted, but it should not be. This article discusses how pharmacists should help patients and doctors, the constraints that make this difficult, and possible ways of improving the present arrangements.

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