Breathing Easier Because of Pharmacists


First, the bad news: Americans’ respiratory health is in decline. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the proportion of Americans with asthma grew by nearly 15% in the past decade. More than 25 million Americans are now affected—that’s 1 in 12 adults, and 1 in 11 children. Asthma alone costs the United States $56 billion each year.1

Another major respiratory issue is allergies, which are now the 6th leading cause of chronic illness in the United States, with an annual cost in excess of $18 billion. More than 50 million Americans suffer from allergies each year.2

In addition, approximately 15 million Americans have been diagnosed with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), and about as many with this disease have not yet received a diagnosis.3,4

Doing the math, you can see that asthma, allergies, and COPD together affect more than 100 million Americans—about one-third of our population. The economic burden of these respiratory diseases falls on society through higher health insurance rates, lost productivity, and increased taxes.

Now the good news: pharmacists are in a unique position to mitigate the physical and economic burdens of these diseases. Highly knowledgeable in both prevention and treatment, pharmacists are a powerful resource for patients who want to take control of their own health issues. Pharmacists can provide counsel and empathy when patients need them most and advise patients to see other health care professionals, including specialists, if warranted.

Counseling by pharmacists also helps contain the high cost of health care. As pharmacists work closely with patients in their own communities, respiratory conditions—such as asthma and allergies—are more likely to be controlled without expensive tests or hospital stays. By simply empowering their patients to exercise their freedom of choice regarding services and products, pharmacists help patients—and society—save money. This is efficient community health care at work.

To support pharmacists in their efforts to improve Americans’ respiratory health, Pharmacy Times offers this annual respiratory health issue with practical advice and up-todate research. The Feature Focus, “Choosing Wisely: Looking at Allergy and Asthma Targets,” discusses a program that helps ensure that health care providers deliver the right care at the right time. The Educated Patient® on COPD can be shared with patients to let them know this disease is preventable and treatable, especially when diagnosed early. In addition, some recent studies on allergies are summarized in the “Allergy Watch.” Please enjoy these resources.

I commend pharmacists for all they do for this nation’s respiratory health. Because of pharmacists, Americans are breathing easier!

Thank you for reading!

Mike Hennessy

Chairman and CEO


  • Asthma. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website. Accessed March 5, 2015.
  • Allergies. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website. Accessed March 5, 2015.
  • Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease among adults—United States, 2011. MMWR. 2012;61(46):938-943.
  • Mannino DM, Gagnon RC, Petty TL, Lydick E. Obstructive lung disease and low lung function in adults in the United States: data from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey 1988-1994. Arch Intern Med. 2000;160:1683-1689.

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