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APhA urges consumers to 'Know Your Pharmacist'
October 1st, 2013
WASHINGTON – The message of the American Pharmacists Association (APhA) as it kicks off the annual American Pharmacists Month campaign is ringing truer as the nation's health care landscape is set to change.
APhA said Tuesday that the initiative's "Know Your Pharmacist, Know Your Medicine" theme reflects "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."
That, in turn, translates into improved health outcomes, as patients better adhere to their prescription regimens, as well as safer medication use, according to APhA. The association noted that failure to take medications as prescribed causes more than 1.5 million preventable, medication-related adverse events and costs the nation's health care system $290 billion each year.
In addition, when patients know their pharmacist and are comfortable seeking the pharmacists' advice, the chance of medication errors decreases substantially, APhA said.
The campaign comes at a time when pharmacists are being looked to for more health care guidance and services. October not only begins American Pharmacists Month but also the launch of the Affordable Care Act's Health Insurance Marketplace, in which millions of uninsured Americans will now be able to buy health insurance through state exchanges.
An estimated 7 million people are expected to buy health plans through the exchanges in 2014, according to the Congressional Budget Office, and 9 million will get coverage through broader Medicaid eligibility. The CBO predicts that the number of uninsured Americans will drop from 56 million to 31 million by 2016.
"Your pharmacist and your prescriber are part of a health care team, working to ensure the best selection and management of your prescription and nonprescription medicines," APhA stated. "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."
Those services, APhA said, include annual medication checkups; prescription drug education; advice on over-the-counter medicines and nutritional and herbal supplements; assistance in filling out a personal medication record; medication adherence reminders or counseling; immunizations; diabetes care guidance; health maintenance counseling and guidance; and healthy heart management and counseling.
"You should choose your pharmacist as carefully as you choose your doctor," APhA advises in the campaign. The association also encourages consumers to use the same pharmacy for all of their prescription services, particularly 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," APhA said.