Friday, December 04, 2009

Pharmacists are a vital, if under-used, part of healthcare

From the Los Angeles Times:
There's an old Jerry Seinfeld joke many pharmacists know all too well. It's the one in which he describes their "whole job" as taking pills from a big bottle and putting them in a little bottle.

"I think that's how a lot of people see us," says Jeff Goad, an associate professor at the USC School of Pharmacy, with both frustration and good humor.

But pharmacists' long years of training -- at least six and as many as eight -- prepare them for much more than repackaging pills. "In terms of the number of hours spent studying drug effectiveness, pharmacists are better trained than physicians," says Julie Donohue, an associate professor of health policy and management at the University of Pittsburgh.

Gone are the days in which pharmacists wouldn't even tell patients what was in their medications, Goad says. Pharmacists now can help patients get the most good from their medications, manage side effects, avoid interactions, even save money.

Today, most, if not all, states have laws requiring pharmacists to give patients specific information. Pharmacists in California are required by state law to offer counseling to patients about every new or changed prescription they fill. Pharmacists and other public health experts call this an offer no one should refuse. "It's the last critical safety check," Goad says. ...more

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