A New Year With New Opportunities

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Pharmacy Times, January 2019 Vaccine-Preventable Disease, Volume 85, Issue 1

As patients and providers turn their calendars to 2019, many pharmacists are making resolutions to improve public health in the new year.

As patients and providers turn their calendars to 2019, many pharmacists are making resolutions to improve public health in the new year.

The fight against cancer is 1 arena in which pharmacists can make a difference in 2019. Cancer remains the second-leading cause of death in the United States, surpassed only by heart disease,1 and 38.5% of the US population will be given a diagnosis of cancer at some point in their lifetime.2 Fortunately, there was a 25% decrease in cancer death rates between 1991 and 2014.1 One possible explanation for this trend is the development of novel cancer therapies, including oral oncology medication. Because these medications are often self-administered, pharmacists can make a great impact on patient outcomes by educating these individuals on their treatment and ensuring medication adherence.

Pharmacists can also take advantage of the season and work toward preventing cancer by helping patients with their New Year’s resolutions. For example, patients who consult with their pharmacists about trying to get in shape could be informed about the link between cancer and excess body weight.1 And those who are looking to kick the cigarette habit could be motivated by learning that a former smoker’s risk of dying from lung cancer is about half of a current smoker’s risk 10 years after quitting.3

Another area in which pharmacists can play an essential role is antibiotic stewardship. At least 2 million patients become infected with antimicrobial-resistant organisms each year in the United States, leading to more than 23,000 deaths.4 Additionally, the CDC estimates that at least 30% of all antimicrobial use in the United States is inappropriate or unnecessary, with this misuse exacerbating drug resistance.5 One way that pharmacists can help fight antibiotic resistance is to lend their skills and knowledge as drug experts to hospital antibiotic stewardship programs. At the community level, pharmacists can work with local physicians and nurse practitioners to ensure that all antibiotic prescriptions are appropriate.

It is also important that pharmacists educate patients about getting vaccinated, as doing so can curb drug resistance by reducing the need for antibiotics, as well as reducing the risk of several types of cancer.6 To help pharmacists in this endeavor, this issue of Pharmacy Times® features an article on vaccine-preventable diseases; resources on vaccine-reluctant patients, diabetes, respiratory illnesses, and more; as well as a free continuing education activity.

A new year brings with it new opportunities to improve patient health, and we are proud to educate and empower pharmacists throughout 2019 as they continue to shape the health care landscape.

Thank you for reading!