Important changes are coming in Spanish pharmacies, specifically with regard to the way to find out about the active principles and contraindications of medicines.
Whenever we get medication, prescription or otherwise, we are always encouraged to read the label, and whereas for many foreigners living in Spain that has proved a challenge because the information is usually in Spanish only, that information leaflet is set to disappear completely.
As part of Europe-wide improvements to the dispensing of medication, the information leaflet is set to be replaced with a QR code which will lead to an digital version of the information leaflet. The good news is that this sort of system should make it easier to provide the information in various different languages, and so, in theory, it might actually be an improvement to the foreign population, but it might also make things harder for those who are less than confident with using digital technology.
The European organisation assures in one of its documents that digitisation is an unavoidable step. They explain that the different parties involved in the negotiation support this proposal.
From Brussels they indicate that the suppression of the prospectus leaflet will bring a series of advantages. Among other things, they maintain that the chains will gain in simplicity, in addition to reducing the possible problems of drug shortages.
They also consider that it will be much easier to update the information on any pharmaceutical product. In addition, there will be significant savings in paper, which is possibly one of the major concerns of community entities.
At the moment, in Spain they are already carrying out tests with drugs for hospital use. This work is carried out by the Spanish Agency for Medicines and Health Products (AEMPS). And over the next few months they will discuss the advantages of suppressing pill box inserts.
As is logical, a measure of these characteristics always raises many doubts. Especially among those groups that may be affected by said solution proposed by the European Commission.
At the moment, pharmacies welcome the inclusion of digital QR codes on the boxes. They believe that it is an adequate tool to keep people informed. However, they find it as something complementary, and not as a substitute for paper.
The person in charge of the Scientific Dissemination area of the General Council of Pharmaceutical Colleges rejects the elimination of the prospectuses. Carlos Fernández Moriano, considers that it is appropriate that both paper and QR codes coexist.
He explains that in the case of drugs that are dispensed in pharmacies, the reduction of information to electronic format is a problem. “It can only be an alternative as a supplement to the prospectus,” he adds.
He believes that most of the people who use drugs are elderly patients and that “they are polymedicated.” From what he understands that they would encounter a serious setback when it comes to having all the data on a drug.
It should not be forgotten that a large part of the population over the age of 65 have serious difficulties in managing themselves in the digital sphere. In addition, many of them do not have devices such as smartphones, nor do they have the necessary skills to function in this sector.
If this is added to the fact that they have to take several drugs at the same time, the problem is considerably aggravated. For now, the plans of Brussels are still on and it is more than likely that from next year they will be fully implemented without paper inside the boxes.