The Department of Health has recently revealed plans to involve pharmacists in the Governments public health strategy. Contracts have been awarded to four organisations (Pharmacy HealthLink, The Royal Pharmaceutical Society of Great Britain, the Faculty of Public Health and the UK Public Health Association) to form a consortium to work with pharmacists in exploring how they can make greater contributions to public health (see press release).

Announcing the award of these contracts, Minister of State for Health Rosie Winterton said, The track record of community pharmacists is evidence of how integral they are to tackling public health issues. But we would like pharmacists do even more and get involved in aspects of care such as checking people's blood pressure and even measuring blood glucose levels. This consortium will help to maximise the contribution of pharmacists, their staff and the premises in which they work, playing a part in helping people enjoy healthier lives by giving them access to more information about their health care.

It is likely that pharmacists will play a major role in the eventual implementation of pharmacogenetics in the NHS; pharmacogenetics refers to the relationship between genetic variation between individuals and the safety and efficacy of drugs. In the future, it is hoped that pharmacogenetic profiling will allow the selection of the optimal drug and dose to benefit each patient, and prevent many adverse drug reactions. A White Paper on Public Health is to be published later this year, and will include the emerging public health role of pharmacists.

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