Know Your Medicine, Know Your Pharmacist

A campaign launched by the American Pharmacists Association will promote pharmacist services throughout the month of October.

Pharmacy has a bit of a public relations problem, if you ask Tom Menighan, BSPharm, executive vice president and chief executive officer of the American Pharmacists Association (APhA).

“I often hear from pharmacists, ‘We need a PR campaign. If they [consumers] only knew what we had to offer,’” Menighan wrote in a recent blog post.

Pharmacists are trained medication experts, but some patients have no idea how knowledgeable the individual behind the counter really is. Making that known will be APhA’s focus for the few weeks, as the organization embarks on a month-long observance of American Pharmacists Month. The campaign’s slogan is “Know Your Medicine, Know Your Pharmacist,” a mantra that stresses the pharmacists’ integral role in the safe use of medication.

In addition to APhA’s efforts to generate publicity through media outreach and community events, the organization encourages its members to engage with their communities to promote patient care services. This year’s priorities, as detailed on the APhA Web site, include:

  • To recognize the vital contributions made by pharmacists to health care in the United States.
  • To enhance the image of pharmacists as the medication experts and an integral part of the health care team, not just dispensers of medication.
  • To educate the public, policy makers, pharmacists, and other health care professionals about the key role played by pharmacists in reducing overall health care costs by improved medication use and advanced patient care.
  • To stress the importance of Knowing Your Medicine and Knowing Your Pharmacist to ensure drug therapy is as safe and effective as possible.

Pharmacists can observe American Pharmacists Month in a variety of ways. Any effort to reach out to patients or local media to increase visibility for patient care services constitutes participation.

APhA recommends hosting special health events, such as flu shot clinics; health screening days for high cholesterol, diabetes, or other chronic conditions; and “medication check-ups,” in which patients have all their medications evaluated by a pharmacist for expiration dates, potential drug interactions, and other issues. Pharmacists can also provide Medicare counseling to seniors as a way of building relationships that continue well past the end of the month.

To kick off the event, APhA issued a press release detailing the role of pharmacists in solving the problem of medication adherence—“America’s other drug problem,” the group calls it. According to the release, nonadherence results in as many as 125,000 deaths and $177 billion in health care costs each year.

The organization also urged patients to visit only one pharmacy and keep an updated medication record, which patients and pharmacists can work up together using a template provided by APhA.

Finally, APhA drove home the core message of American Pharmacists Month. “Pharmacists are the medication experts and are specifically trained to help consumers with their medication issues and questions, including adherence,” said Menighan.

“Your pharmacist can help you coordinate a better medication schedule and is available to discuss proper medication usage, food/drug interactions, side effects, dosing, generics and over-the-counter medications, compliance issues and more,” he stated.

For other articles in this issue, see:

  • Will the "Flu Patch" Replace Traditional Vaccines?
  • Mammograms May be Lifesaving for Younger Women
  • Medicare Recruits Seniors to Spot, Stop, and Report Fraud