California Pharmacy Knows Pharmacist-Physician Relationship Is Essential

Pharmacy Times, October 2022, Volume 88, Issue 10

CMD drugs understands that pharmacists are on the front lines with patients, necessitating strong communication with providers.

When Laleh Ford, PharmD, MSC, RPh, started working at CDM Drugs in Corona del Mar, California, in 2015, it was a traditional pharmacy that did not offer compounding, immunization, or medication therapy management (MTM). But as a research scientist who specialized in formulating skin care compounds,1 she knew a pharmacy could do more than fill prescriptions. Pharmacies also can provide personalized care for patients to ensure that they receive the best medications for their conditions.

The key is communication between pharmacists and physicians, Ford said in an interview. “A lot of medical error happen[s] because of the miscommunication between doctors and pharmacy, and that’s really big out there....When I was studying, I was seeing [that] it was something they always alert us about,” she said. “I always ask [patients] what condition they [have] to make sure the medication is correctly prescribed to begin with and [to determine whether] I feel something is a better option or is not, as part of the MTM.”

Pharmacists have more frequent contact with patients than physicians do, so it would make sense for them to deal more directly with patients’ therapy management beyond filling prescriptions, Ford said. “I see all the patient’s medications on the file. The [doctors usually] see it too, but we as pharmacists know about drugs better; they know better about diagnostic,” Ford said. “If I see something can be a better choice for the patient...I usually have a template [on which] I write why and what it is and then refax to the doctor, because you cannot [reach] them on the phone.”

Although this is extra work, it is worth it when patients get the best medication for their conditions, Ford said, adding that physicians are usually so busy that sometimes when they prescribe medications, they do not consider all the possibilities. Pharmacists are better versed in medication compounding than physicians are, she said. As an example, Ford said that if a steroid is prescribed for an infant, she might suggest another option to the physician. “[I might say] instead of using a steroid, we should use [this because] it helps for this skin condition. This is a mixture of this compound, and these are all vitamins, or [this is] all good stuff, rather than give the patient a steroid, and [physicians] really appreciate this,” she said.

Additionally, pharmacists can help evaluate potential medication adverse events (AEs) and recommend to a physician that a patient should switch to a different drug. This can occur, for example, with patients who have AEs because of taking a generic antidepressant. In that case, Ford would reach out to the physician and ask about switching medications or whether the physician wants to talk directly with the patient about the medication.

Ford has made personalized compounds for patients and has several patented formulations. “What I do with a lot of dermatology offices, basically they send me pictures and they ask, ‘Is [there] something you can do beside[s] a steroid for this patient with psoriasis?’ [And we] come up with this formulation [that is more] beneficial for [the] patient’ ” with fewer AEs, she said. Many patients have seen significant positive changes to their skin conditions because of her formulations, Ford said.

CDM Drugs recently received the newly created Innovation Award from Health Mart at McKesson ideaShare 2022, recognizing a pharmacy that offers innovative, unique strategies for going above and beyond the standard of care.2 Ford appreciates the award, adding that patients depend on pharmacies, because that is their point of contact after they see physicians.

“So as a pharmacist, you’re there to...ensure they get the best option and look out for their interests,” she said.

References

1. Laleh Ford, head pharmacist. CDM Drugs. Accessed August 1, 2022. https://cdmdrugs.com/about-us

2. Antrim A. Health Mart Pharmacy of the Year awarded to Bunch Pharmacy in Alabama for innovation, patient care. Pharmacy Times®. July 11, 2022. Accessed August 1, 2022. https://www.pharmacytimes.com/view/health-mart-pharmacy-of-the-year-awarded-to-bunch-pharmacy-in-alabama-for-innovation-patient-care