Pharmacy professionals must be acknowledged as playing a central role in the development of genomic services, according to a position statement published jointly by the Royal Pharmaceutical Society (RPS) and ten other pharmacy bodies, including the Association of Pharmacy Technicians UK and the UK Clinical Pharmacy Association.
The statement, published on 24 April 2023, pointed out that pharmacy teams already have established roles in some areas of genomic medicine, including advising on targeted precision medicines in cancer care and checking genetic test results, where required, as part of prescription verification.
However, it adds that pharmacists’ skills could be used in developing roles, as genomic medicine expands to cover wider aspects of healthcare.
Among these emerging roles, the statement says that pharmacy professionals could refer patients directly to clinical genetic services; prescribe using genomic test results and advise other healthcare professionals on the use of genomic results when making prescribing decisions; and develop pharmacogenomics gene panels with appropriate clinical utility in practice, alongside expert genomics professionals.
Sophie Harding, lead for pharmacogenomics at the RPS, said: “Pharmacy professionals are the gatekeepers of medication safety and efficacy across all areas of healthcare.
“They are skilled at interpreting complex scientific data and use evidence-based medicine to maximise the benefits of treatments for patients, whilst supporting shared decision-making with patients and the multidisciplinary team.
“By incorporating genomic information across all areas of their practice, pharmacy professionals can help identify patients who may benefit from certain targeted treatments or alternative treatment options, or be at risk of adverse drug reactions.”
Claire Anderson, president of the RPS, said: “The mainstreaming of genomics into routine clinical practice will have a significant impact on all healthcare professional groups, including pharmacy.
“Pharmacists and pharmacy technicians are well placed to fulfil a wide range of roles in genomic medicine and there are significant opportunities for new approaches to patient care.”
In May 2022, the RPS called for a comprehensive workforce strategy around pharmacogenomics and for pharmacogenomics to be embedded within undergraduate pharmacy education.