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Res Social Adm Pharm. 2017 Jan - Feb;13(1):17-38. doi: 10.1016/j.sapharm.2016.02.010. Epub 2016 Mar 4.

A systematic review in select countries of the role of the pharmacist in consultations and sales of non-prescription medicines in community pharmacy.

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School of Pharmacy, University of Nottingham, University Park, Nottingham NG7 2RD, UK.
School of Pharmacy, University of Nottingham, University Park, Nottingham NG7 2RD, UK. Electronic address:



Much has been studied in regard to non-prescription medicines (NPMs), but the impact of greater emphasis toward patient self-selection of such agents is still not well understood, and evidence in the literature might be equivocal.


The aim was to examine whether or not pharmacist interventions are important in the sale of NPMs and to summarize the evidence of pharmacists' contribution in maintaining patient safety and improving the quality of consultations involving NPMs.


Seven online databases were searched to identify the literature on studies conducted within the UK and in countries comparable to the UK reporting on consultations and selling of NPMs published between 1980 and 2013. All study designs except for quantitative surveys were eligible for inclusion into the review. The data extraction and quality assessment were performed according to the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence guidelines. The data extracted from the studies were analyzed and presented qualitatively.


Eighty-three studies from an original 12,879 citations were included in this review. Just under half of the studies were published between 2000 and 2009 (n = 38; 46%). Thirty-three (44%) of the studies were conducted in the UK. The review showed that in terms of the contribution of community pharmacy staff in consultations for NPMs, non-pharmacist staff dealt with a large proportion of the consultations and pharmacists were usually involved in the consultation through referral from non-pharmacist staff member. Counseling was not consistently offered to everyone. Where counseling was provided it was not always of sufficient quality. Consultations were performed much better when symptoms were presented compared to when people made a direct product request. Pharmacists were reported to conduct better consultations than non-pharmacist staff. There was evidence to suggest that where counseling was appropriately provided this afforded the person a safe environment to utilize their NPMs.


Seeking methods to develop better engagement with customers accessing pharmacy services for NPMs is necessary to enhance the interaction between these two parties. Efforts to enhance the community pharmacy environment to bring about a more positive experience for people using pharmacy is needed at present and will be important if the model for the selection of NPMs is modified in the UK. More studies are needed to allow a better understanding of the impact self-selection may have on patient safety in the community pharmacy context.


Community pharmacy; Non prescription medicines; Patient safety; Pharmacist; Pharmacy staff; Sale; Supply; Systematic review; consultations

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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