This month's issue is devoted to conditions that affect the central nervous system (CNS) and the ever-increasing role that pharmacists play in their treatment, diagnosis, and medication therapy. By their nature, conditions that fall under the CNS umbrella present unique challenges and often require coordination among a care team that can include primary care physicians, specialists, mental health professionals, managed care executives, and—yes—pharmacists.
In his illuminating piece on how little most Americans know about mental illness, Guido Zanni, PhD, points out the alarming fact that a large percentage of people are unaware that viable treatment options for mental illness exist. As Dr. Zanni rightly points out, there is a tremendous opportunity for the pharmacist to intervene in an educational capacity with those who present with either untreated symptoms or show signs of failure to comply with medication therapy.
Other articles this month include an informative piece on slowing the course of Alzheimer's disease (AD). As the authors note in their introduction, "Because nonpharmacologic treatments are the mainstay of caring for the patient with AD, the pharmacist plays a pivotal role in reinforcing important counseling points with family members and caregivers. Education for the AD patient's caregiver has shown to improve caregiver satisfaction, knowledge, and confidence. It also has been known to potentially delay nursing home placement?" Pharmacists have a key role to play in identifying adverse effects of concomitant medications and suggesting therapeutic alternatives.
Additional articles with a CNS focus this month include a feature on treatment of multiple sclerosis, a primer on anxiety disorders and their treatment, an education piece for your patients on how to deal with depression, and an in-depth look at the issues pharmacists must be aware of when assisting patients who have addictions or are in recovery. The latter article, in particular, includes a great deal of practical information you can use in your daily interactions with patients.
Also this month, we are revisiting the topic of the "Pharmacy as a Health Care Destination." Late winter and early spring are often the busiest time for pharmacies, as colds, flu outbreaks, and just-emerging allergies send consumers to the pharmacy for a host of OTC remedies, and, often, the advice of the pharmacist—the most accessible and among the most trusted health care professionals.
In addition to our CNS coverage, you'll find our regular mix of news, features, and columns that endeavors to keep you up-to-date on?well, just about everything. As your role expands, we hope to expand along with it, providing counseling, tips, news, continuing education, and features to complete that third component—knowledge— which, alongside accessibility and trust, makes pharmacists an invaluable part of the health care team.
Thank you for reading.
Michael J. Hennessy