Pharmacy-based point-of-care testing should be promoted and incorporated more widely into publicly funded and insurance-funded healthcare systems, the International Pharmaceutical Federation (FIP) has said in a statement of policy, released today during its annual Congress.

The FIP has also called for services to be available for purchase by individuals, and for pharmacists to have read-and-write access to electronic health records so that test results can be shared across healthcare teams.

The federation referred to screening for diseases like Covid-19 or HIV and chronic disease indicator monitoring, such as cholesterol or blood glucose levels, which it said bring ‘health and economic benefits’.

The statement updates FIP’s 2004 position on the topic and said pharmacy point-of-care testing benefits included earlier detection of disease, reduction of unnecessary visits to general practitioners, and more responsible use of antibiotics.

The update set out recommendations for different stakeholders to increase access to testing through pharmacies, for example, governments removing regulatory barriers to enable pharmacy professionals to play a bigger part in testing.

At the same time, it urged national pharmacy organisations to advocate the necessary revision of legislation.

Education providers, meanwhile, have been urged to provide pharmacy students with basic training on taking biological samples.

Sherif Guorgui, co-chair of FIP’s policy committee on point-of-care testing, said: ‘Providing health screening services through point-of-care tests has increased in importance with improved technologies, greater acceptance, and current global agendas such as the World Health Organization declaration of Astana on primary health care steering changes in practice. Moreover, we now have clear evidence for the benefits of pharmacy-based testing.’

Dr Julien Fonsart, co-chair of the policy committee, added: ‘The World Health Organization has said that when point-of-care tests are adequately performed, they improve quality of care. With this policy statement, FIP is leading on point-of-care testing in pharmacy settings as a way to strengthen health systems around the world. This is particularly important in low- and middle-income countries to ensure affordable access to health services.

‘It is crucial for pharmacy professionals to be included in national and local strategies and I encourage all stakeholders to read the statement.’

The FIP is the global federation of national associations of pharmacists, pharmaceutical scientists and pharmacy educators, representing more than four million practitioners and scientists around the world. Its World Congress is taking place in Seville, Spain this week.

The Royal Pharmaceutical Society (RPS) is not a member of FIP after deciding not to renew its membership earlier this year. However, the organisation said in July that the assembly was supportive of re-joining FIP and that it would be asking members whether they support re-joining.