The case of Australian swimmer Ryan Napoleon being banned from international competition for three months after testing positive to a banned substance highlights the need for pharmacists to be totally aware of what they are dispensing and the circumstances under which medications are dispensed.

The three-month ban on Mr Napoleon, imposed by the world swimming body FINA, means he is ineligible for the Commonwealth Games, despite beings selected to represent Australia in the 400m and 1500m freestyle events at the Games in new Delhi in October. In imposing the ban, FINA said Mr Napoleon "had tested positive to the substance formoterol in November 2009."

FINA went on to say, "... during the hearing of the Doping Panel it has been sufficiently established how the substance formoterol [available in Australia as Eformoterol] entered the body of the athlete due to the use of an inhaler wrongly labelled by a pharmacist."

Acting President of the Pharmaceutical Society of Australia, Grant Kardachi, said the case highlighted the need for pharmacists to have the resources available to check on the medications they are dispensing and, in the case of elite sport people, to be able to check if they are banned substances.

"PSA's definitive reference work, APF21, provides information to assist pharmacists in their dispensing and other aspects of their pharmacy practice. The section, Drugs in Sport would have been especially helpful in this case as it details the processes that a pharmacist should go through when dispensing any medicines for athletes subject to doping control testing" Mr Kardachi said.

"This substantial clinical handbook is essential in all aspects of pharmacy practice and has evolved to continually adapt and meet the growing needs of pharmacists as a result of the ever-changing practice and practice environment."

In its ruling, the FINA Doping Panel said the case "underlines the responsibility of the athlete to check his medicine (in this case for asthma)".

Mr Kardachi said it also underlined that pharmacists should also check the medications for athletes and other consumers who had to comply with banned substances lists, and APF21 provided a link to the latest list of banned substances.

"APF21 has been designed to ensure the efficacy and robustness of processes and procedures in pharmacy practice and no pharmacist, regardless of what sector they operate in, should be without this invaluable reference tool," Mr Kardachi said.

Pharmaceutical Society of Australia

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