OBJECTIVE: To describe the provision of patient care in community pharmacies in Finland. FINDINGS: The network of 799 community pharmacies across Finland dispensed 42.1 million prescriptions in 2005. Medication counseling has been mandated by law since 1983 and only pharmacists are permitted to provide therapeutic advice in pharmacies. Measurable improvements in the rates of pharmacists' medication counseling have been observed since 2000. Long-term national pharmacy practice initiatives commenced with the World Health Organization EuroPharm Forum's Questions to Ask About Your Medicines campaign from 1993 to 1996. This was followed by the larger Customized Information for the Benefit of Community Pharmacy Patients project. Since the late 1990s, Finnish pharmacies have actively participated in ongoing national public health programs, initially in the areas of asthma and diabetes, and more recently in the treatment and prevention of heart disease. Automated dose dispensing and electronic prescribing are in the process of wider uptake and implementation. A nationwide multidisciplinary project to improve the use of drugs in older people has recently been announced and research in this area is underway. DISCUSSION: Research has focused on improving the quality of patient care as a strategic priority in community pharmacies. The development of community pharmacy services in Finland has been characterized by strong collaboration among the professional associations, university departments of social pharmacy, continuing education centers, and practicing pharmacists. CONCLUSIONS: Implementation of new patient care services has required long-term, systematic, and well coordinated actions at the local and national levels. Future services will seek to promote the quality use of medications and to ensure that rising costs do not limit uniform access to drugs by all Finnish residents.
- Community pharmacy services
- Pharmaceutical care