Enlisting pharmacy in better health outcomes

Every day now, it seems, health researchers keep coming up with new reasons why the troubled U.S. healthcare system needs to more effectively engage pharmacists and pharmacy technicians in its urgent search for more accessible and more cost-effective ways to deliver care and boost patients’ lifespans and quality of life.

Two new reasons emerged in the past few weeks. Both involved the release of reports detailing the results of two long-term studies showing the beneficial effects of vitamin use and of improved monitoring of diabetes patients. Both highlight the positive role pharmacists can play as patient counselors and disease managers.

The Journal of the American Medical Association released a study last Wednesday [Oct. 17] showing that long-term multivitamin use seems to lower cancer risk among men. Researchers tracked some 15,000 men over a period of more than 11 years and found that daily use of a multivitamin measurably reduced the risk of developing cancer compared with those taking a placebo.

Walgreens’ top pharmacy and health leader touted the findings and the role the chain’s pharmacists could play in encouraging men to take a daily multi. “Our pharmacists are available to discuss vitamin options with individuals and counsel them about potential side effects that certain ingredients can have with select prescriptions,” said Kermit Crawford, the company’s president of pharmacy, health and wellness. “Pharmacists can help customers make the right choice to get, stay and live well.” (See story here.)

Another study report, published in Diabetes Technology & Therapeutics, showed that “patients who tested at least once per day had the greatest reductions in A1C levels, compared with patients who tested less frequently or not at all,” according to Drug Store News senior editor Mike Johnsen in an Oct. 19 report. (See story here.). Researchers from medical device maker LIfescan also found that “patients who tested their blood glucose were more likely to take their diabetes medication as prescribed than patients who didn’t,” Johnsen reported.

Pharmacists, of course, can be key allies in helping diabetic patients both keep track of their glucose levels and stay adherent with their drug regimens to control the condition.

If you’re a pharmacist or pharmacy leader, what role are you or your pharmacy team playing to encourage healthier behaviors in your patients? You can share specific examples by clicking on the comment button — and as always, thank you for your participation.

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