A Common Future Requires Collaboration

Published on: 
Pharmaceutical Technology, Pharmaceutical Technology-11-02-2010, Volume 34, Issue 11

Scientists and practitioners must work together for the overall good of the patient.

During the past century, the International Pharmaceutical Federation (FIP) has survived multiple upheavals, including two World Wars. These conflicts ravaged the world and led to changes in borders and attitudes as well as the advent of new policies, and unprecedented technical progress. Today, the federation is stronger than ever and serves as the common platform among pharmacist practitioners and scientists around the world to discuss issues ranging from emerging technologies to the application of new therapies. We are at the fore of therapeutic interventions and also, therefore, at the fore of understanding, development, and implementation of solutions that can help patients (e.g., adherence to therapies). This common platform builds global advocacy, policy development, and support for the important roles that pharmacists and pharmaceutical scientists play in our local communities.

Michael Buchmann, PhD

A vision for the future

In 2008, the FIP Council, the decision-making body composed of FIP leaders and member organizations, adopted the 2020 Vision, Mission and Strategic Plan. The plan outlines specific actions for the federation to take up to and beyond the year 2020, allowing for continuous innovation and development. As the newly elected president of FIP, I will work in full cooperation with FIP's executive leadership to oversee and carry out these initiatives.

With the unanimous support of its members, the 2020 Vision document solicits practitioners to respond to the needs and requests of global populations and governments. It is up to practitioners to implement high standards of professional practice, to develop innovative research in pharmacy practice, and to build interprofessional collaborations that will raise the quality of healthcare through the safe and effective use of medicines. Scientists are also called upon to invest in research and drug discovery as well as the development and manufacturing of new drug entities and therapeutic tools with the goal of meeting core challenges that diseases pose in the contemporary world.


The 21st century will become the century of the life sciences, where people will live longer and healthier lives, and where everyone will have a right to safe and effective drug therapy.

Pharmacists and scientists are united in FIP through their common obligation to improve healthcare by using their know-how and expertise in medicines. Through creativity, enthusiasm, and communication, pharmacists and scientists are working together to identify societies' needs, develop therapies, and apply solutions to meet those needs. Annual FIP Congresses are an important catalyst to promote dialogue, to provide continuing education, and to build networks between the disciplines. Through its partnership with world leaders such as the World Health Organization, FIP represents pharmacists and pharmaceutical scientists globally by providing expert guidance and weaving positive change in global health.

The benefit of education

FIP's focus on education is also helping to bridge the gap between pharmacists and scientists. High standards and appropriate education are needed to meet the needs of society. Medicines of the future will require greater input and coordination at all levels to maximize their safety and effectiveness. Unless the education of pharmacists and pharmaceutical scientists is complementary and continually updated, the benefits from advances in the pharmaceutical sciences resulting in new medicines will be suboptimal. FIP will continue to foster a healthier, global community through the synergistic work of pharmacists and pharmaceutical scientists around the world.

To succeed, our industries need to rethink education at the undergraduate and postgraduate level, including continuing education. It is important to maintain a strong scientific understanding while integrating the social sciences that are essential to working with patients, listening to them, and motivating them to change, if necessary, for their own good. Scientists and practitioners have a duty not only to keep up their knowledge base in the form of classes and workshops, but also to speak with and collaborate with one another.

In the natural sciences, experiments are undertaken using controlled conditions that often do not reflect the complexity of the whole system or body. Today, the situation is changing. Growing awareness of the complexity of the human body and the relationship between human behavior and health require a different approach, especially because the experimental model has pushed us toward specialization. Rapid results from scientific experiments, for example, have improved our understanding of the world.

There are various disciplines that are now in competition with one another and as a result, there has been a progressive fragmentation of knowledge. Today's scientists aim to master their fields and sometimes, they do so by ignoring already existing common-sense approaches. For example, although science has provided the world with new and innovative treatments for HIV/AIDS, simply delivering a defined number of tablets to patients will not ensure adherence and improved health in patients. Patients need explanations, easy-to-use tools and instructions, and follow-ups to support the use of their therapy. Common sense and dialogue between practitioners, scientists, and the pharmaceutical industry could lead to the development of comprehensive healthcare programs using more efficient tools to support patient care.

The power of dialogue

As we move into a new decade, it is time to pause for reflection and to foster dialogue. As scientific goals grow increasingly ambitious and result in more astonishing discoveries, the application and the safe and effective use of these discoveries will require competent and engaged practitioners. Practitioners are closest to patients and can help provide equal access to new treatments and cures. Any break in this chain, from science to practice to patient, runs the risk of failure, and any arrogance will breed weakness. Scientists and practitioners must work together.

It is necessary, therefore, that we interact in the interest of our societies and our patients. In this regard, FIP provides an ideal platform. Collaboration needs to be protected, developed, and used wisely so that education—in both science and practice—can grow and benefit. This month's World Congress of Pharmaceutical Sciences provides an opportunity to spark such dialogue. As we move ahead, FIP will continue to represent a conglomerate of diverse elements that welds together those who have a similar desire to act for the good of the profession and of patients.

Michael Buchmann, PhD, is president of the International Pharmaceutical Federation (FIP), which is jointly hosting this month's Pharmaceutical Sciences World Congress and AAPS Annual Meeting & Exposition in New Orleans, http://fip.org.