Types of Information Needed by Pharmacists
What types of information do pharmacists require to be confident providers of biotech drugs and services? For pharmacists who have been out of school for more than ten years, a contemporary understanding of the immune system, autoimmune diseases and mechanisms by which drugs modify the immune system is essential. Several appropriate books that can provide a basic background in immunology are listed in Table 1. Additionally, practitioners may enroll in organized courses or continuing education programs that can provide up-to-date information in the discipline of immunology. Current pharmacy students and recent graduates should be sufficiently trained in basic immunology as part of their professional curriculum.
Many pharmacists, upon hearing the word biotechnology, imagine a discipline too technical or complicated to be understood by the typical practi-tioner. Pharmacists
must recognize that biotechnology primarily refers to a set of tools that has
allowed great strides to be made in basic research, the under-standing of
disease and development of new therapeutic agents. It is essential for
pharmacists to have a basic understanding of recombinant DNA technology and
monoclonal antibody technology. However, it is not necessary that pharmacy
practitioners know how to use these tools in the laboratory but rather how the
use of these tools provides new therapeutic agents and a greater understanding
of disease processes.
Pharmacists may need to review or learn anew about protein chemistry and those characteristics that affect therapeutic activity, product storage and routes of administration of these drugs. Apart from this textbook, several publications, videotapes and continuing professional education programs from industry and academic institutions are available to pharmacists for learning about the technical aspects of product storage and handling. Pharmacists also need to become familiar with the drug delivery systems currently in use for biotech drugs as well as those that are in development.