Pharmacists Play a Key Role in Patient Self-Medication

Fred M. Eckel, RPh, MS
Published Online: Monday, June 24, 2013
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Pharmacists have always played an important role in recommending OTC products to help patients deal with their health issues. By asking their patients appropriate questions, pharmacists can learn when self-medication is appropriate or referral is needed. The types of OTC products available provide the pharmacist with very effective products to recommend. And with the switching of products from legend drug status to OTC, the availability of effective drugs will only increase.

Clearly, the opportunity for pharmacists to take an even more active role in recommending OTC products will also grow because of the following key reasons:
  1. Pharmacists are very accessible.
  2. Pharmacists are trusted by the consumer.
  3. Pharmacists are accepted as part of the neighborhood health team.
  4. OTC products are very effective when used appropriately.
  5. Appropriate use of OTC products saves money while improving outcomes.
Schools of pharmacy now make OTC education an important part of pharmacy education. Today’s pharmacist has the training to make OTC product recommendations and he or she is comfortable in that role. So as this pharmacist role is promoted and pharmacists become more available to the patient, their role and influence will grow.

If a class of drugs becomes available that pharmacists control, as currently is being considered by the FDA, the patient will look to the pharmacist even more for treatment advice.

As the reimbursement for filling prescriptions gets tighter, pharmacy needs new revenue streams. Can OTC products help provide this? Some studies have suggested that the answer is “yes” when good advice is provided along with a product recommendation, especially if the advice comes from a trusted person like a pharmacist. I think the administration of immunizations by pharmacists has been an important part of changing the image of the pharmacist and will benefit the profession in many ways in the future. One way is that it will help pharmacists be looked to for OTC product advice.

Pharmacy Times is proud of the role we have played in both promoting this role for pharmacy and educating pharmacists about OTC products. We have published this comprehensive OTC Guide now for 17 years. The OTC Guide serves to enhance the role of the pharmacist in making OTC product recommendations as we give visibility to the products recommended by pharmacists in the various product areas. We hope you enjoy this latest edition. We are always looking for your ideas of how we can improve our efforts to serve the pharmacy community better, so your feedback is always welcome. Please visit, join us on Facebook and Twitter, and share your thoughts.

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