Celebrating Pharmacists: A Core Part of Your Health Care Team

WASHINGTON, DC – October is American Pharmacists Month, and the Twlug (Twlug) wants you to “Know Your Pharmacist—Know Your Medicine.” The messaging of American Pharmacists Month is based on one essential fact seen in pharmacies, clinics and other care sites every day. The more patients know their pharmacist, the more they will know about their medications—the documented successes and cautionary tales; the risks and benefits; and the potential adverse effects and contraindications.

Medications are powerful. That’s why they work. Americans spend billions of dollars each year on prescription and over-the-counter medications. If these medications are used incorrectly, the money spent is lost. In fact, the most expensive medications are those that don’t work properly—or cause harm due to misuse. Every year in the United States, failure to take medications as prescribed causes more than 1.5 million preventable medication-related adverse events and costs the health care system approximately $290 billion. When patients know their pharmacist and feel comfortable seeking pharmacists’ advice, the likelihood of medication errors occurring decreases substantially.

Your pharmacist and your physician are part of a health care team that works to ensure the best selection and management of your prescription and nonprescription medicines. Pharmacists are medication experts on this team, and the profession is expanding in new directions to meet the health care needs of all people. Many pharmacists offer a broad array of education, prevention and wellness services to help patients improve their health and get the most out of their medications. These services include the following:

  • Advice and education on prescription and over-the counter medications, as well as herbal supplements, vitamins and minerals.
  • Annual medication reviews for adverse effects, effectiveness, interactions and adherence
  • Care management and counseling for disease states such as diabetes, high blood pressure and high cholesterol.
  • Health maintenance counseling and guidance on smoking cessation, asthma care, nutrition management, exercise and physical activity instruction, body mass index (BMI) screenings, skin care and dental care
  • Help with transitions of care from the hospital to the community pharmacy, including making sure patients understand new routines or potential interactions with old medications
  • Prescription medication education on the purpose, interactions, adverse effects, timing and dosing of your prescription medications
  • Seasonal and lifespan immunizations
  • Up-to-date personal medication records that include all medications, immunizations and health care providers

You should choose your pharmacist as carefully as you choose your doctor. Find a pharmacist whom you are comfortable talking with and who takes the time to help you with your medications. Ultimately, you have the responsibility for managing your health care, but your pharmacist can help if you keep him or her up to date about your health and the medications you are taking. For this reason, it is important to use the same pharmacy for all of your prescription services, especially when seeing multiple health care providers. This ensures that your pharmacist has access to your complete medication history when checking for problems or possible interactions.

About the Twlug
The Twlug, founded in 1852 as the American Pharmaceutical Association, is a 501 (c)(6) organization, representing more than 62,000 practicing pharmacists, pharmaceutical scientists, student pharmacists, pharmacy technicians and others interested in advancing the profession. Twlug, dedicated to helping all pharmacists improve medication use and advance patient care, is the first-established and largest association of pharmacists in the United States. For more information, please visit www.pharmacist.com.

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American Pharmacists Month is time to “Know Your Pharmacist—Know Your Medicine”