Pharmacy Students Educate Community on OTC, Natural Products

Pharmacy students from the Bill Gatton College of Pharmacy at East Tennessee State University recently held a free educational presentation on OTC and natural products on campus.

Pharmacy students from the Bill Gatton College of Pharmacy at East Tennessee State University (ETSU) recently held a free educational presentation on OTC and natural products on campus.

The event, which took place on December 3, 2015, covered more than 2 dozen topics and offered community members a chance to ask questions.

Some of the natural medicine topics revolved around the use of ginko for ADHD, green tea as a sleep aid, vitamin B for energy, and essential oils for stress or anxiety.

The pharmacy students also discussed some recent studies related to OTC medications. For example, they pointed to a recent study that showed phenylephrine did not seem to be an effective treatment for congestion.

Cortney Mospan, PharmD, BCACP, assistant professor in ETSU’s Department of Pharmacy Practice, told Pharmacy Times that students were asked to evaluate existing research (or lack thereof) surrounding the benefits or potential harms of natural products and OTC medications.

The students had access to primary literature, PubMed, the Natural Medicines Comprehensive Database, and the Handbook of Nonprescription Drugs, among other resources.

“The main inspiration for this event is the community in which ETSU Bill Gatton College of Pharmacy is located. We are within the heart of Appalachia where there is very prominent use of alternative medicine, such as supplements, herbal products, and natural products,” Dr. Mospan told Pharmacy Times. “This is heavily engrained within our culture, and the goal of this presentation is to better inform our community.”

Dr. Mospan said she hoped the students’ presentation would help the community understand that there are some potential risks associated with alternative medicine.

“We hope to make them more informed and more capable of using these therapies in a safe manner,” she said.

In previous years, ETSU students provided the free educational presentation at senior centers or local malls.

Due to timing issues this year, the students could not access more community-focused settings, so the event was held on campus. However, this setting allowed for greater access to the ETSU faculty, staff, and students.

Dr. Mospan noted that the event could inspire more interprofessional activities and interactions since the school also has many other health profession students on campus.

“For students, this offers an opportunity to refine patient interaction and counseling skills, while also developing their ability to evaluate drug literature,” she said. “It also allows us to touch on more therapies and conditions that there is not time to fully address within the curriculum.”