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Rx group: Pharmacists can help smokers quit
January 17th, 2011
TORONTO – The Ontario Pharmacists Association is pointing smokers looking to kick the habit to their local pharmacist for assistance.
The association said Monday that as part of Canada's 34th annual National Non-Smoking Week running Jan. 16 to 22, it's reminding Ontarians who want to stop smoking that their pharmacist can help them quit successfully.
Consulting a pharmacist or other health care professional when quitting smoking boosts a patient's chance of long-term success from 3% to 30%, according to the Ontario Pharmacists Association, which cited a recent study of the effectiveness of pharmacist counseling combined with nicotine replacement therapy in a randomized trial with nearly 7,000 smokers.
Through consultation, pharmacists can identify each patient's needs and help determine his or her best option, whether it involves an over-the-counter nicotine replacement therapy such as a gum, patch, lozenge or inhaler or if it entails a prescription medication, the association said. Pharmacists also advise patients on the proper use of the smoking cessation treatment and what to expect, including potential side effects and how to manage them. They can also follow up with the patients regularly to see how they are progressing.
"As experts in medication management, pharmacists are also among the most accessible health care professionals," Dennis Darby, chief executive officer of the Ontario Pharmacists Association, said in a statement. "They are readily available to provide advice and information to patients who want to quit smoking."
The association noted that people who smoke have another good reason to consult their pharmacist: Medical conditions such as heart disease, blood pressure, diabetes and stomach disorders can be harder to manage in a patient who smokes.
"We all know smoking is bad for us, but what many patients do not know is that tobacco use can impact the effectiveness of many medications and cause adverse reactions to drugs," stated Janet McCutchon, chair of the Ontario Pharmacists Association.
Tobacco can affect the action of drugs by interfering with how the body absorbs, uses and eliminates certain medications, or by changing the expected response of the drug, according to the association. Patients who smoke regularly are at risk of experiencing unpredictable results from some drug therapies, including insulin, and certain blood thinners and antidepressants.
What's more, quitting smoking — with or without treatment — may affect the way that a medication works. "Because tobacco increases a person's metabolism, quitting slows down the metabolism and medication levels may need to be adjusted," explained McCutchon.
"Patients should advise their pharmacists of their smoking status so they can be properly monitored," she added. "Pharmacists can provide patients with the guidance they need to develop a quit plan, manage their medication and stop smoking."
The association said Ontarians who want to quit smoking may also be eligible for MedsCheck, a provincial program that allows patients to book a free 30-minute medication review with their pharmacist. The program is available to Ontarians taking three or more prescription medications for chronic conditions, people with diabetes, residents of long-term care facilities and those who cannot travel to a pharmacy.