A system for monitoring quality standards in the provision of non-prescription medicines from Australian community pharmacies

Pharm World Sci. 2008 Apr;30(2):147-53. doi: 10.1007/s11096-007-9162-7. Epub 2007 Oct 16.


There is a growing trend, globally, for consumers to self-medicate with non-prescription medications for common ailments. Pharmacists and pharmacy assistants are thought to be in a unique position to support consumers' purchases of these medicines through the application of knowledge and skills, in an environment in which safety and quality remains paramount. Standards of practice have been developed by the profession to address the provision of these medicines, using a consumer-focused and risk management approach. The application of these standards has been monitored since 2002, by the Quality Care Pharmacy Support Centre (QCPSC), created as a joint venture between the University and the Pharmacy Guild of Australia. The establishment of the QCPSC has allowed the development of a system to monitor and improve the application of standards for the provision of non-prescription medicines to consumers in community pharmacies in Australia. This system is unique in two aspects. The first is the use of pseudo-patient methodology, also called "mystery shoppers", "pseudo-customers" and "simulated patients", for the purpose of both assessment and quality improvement. The second unique aspect is the capturing of data based on assessments of behaviour in practice environments. To date, the centre has conducted 14,738 standards maintenance assessment (SMA) visits, involving over 4,200 pharmacies across all states and territories in Australia. The data generated by such a system create a feedback mechanism for policy decision-making in the area of Quality Use of Medicines (QUM) for non-prescription medicines, which is of critical importance to the health and safety of consumers.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Australia
  • Community Pharmacy Services / organization & administration*
  • Community Pharmacy Services / standards
  • Counseling*
  • Guideline Adherence*
  • Humans
  • Management Audit
  • Nonprescription Drugs / standards*
  • Patient Simulation
  • Pharmacists / standards
  • Pharmacy Technicians
  • Process Assessment, Health Care*
  • Professional Competence
  • Professional-Patient Relations
  • Quality Assurance, Health Care*
  • Quality Indicators, Health Care


  • Nonprescription Drugs