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MEDICAL COUNSELORS

Pharmacists crucial in effective healthcare

For most Filipinos, a pharmacist is simply one who sells medicine – one who stands behind drugstore counters, busily taking the prescriptions from customers and giving them the medicines they need.

“The perception of the community is that the pharmacist is just a seller of the drug and you can’t blame them because that is what they see and this is how some pharmacists act,” said Leonila Ocampo, president of the Philippine Pharmacists Association (PPA).

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Ocampo pointed out, however, that there is more to a pharmacist than just being a seller of medicines. Clinical pharmacy is, in fact, a specialty practice, she said in an interview with Inquirer Science/Health.

“Pharmacists play a crucial role in the effective delivery of health services… We call our pharmacists medical experts, they are the ones who study the details and components of a drug or medicine,” she explained.

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According to Ocampo, pharmacists are supposed to be the medication managers and counselors, who help patients achieve the optimum benefits of medication.

“It is the pharmacists’ duty to check the prescription for any potential adverse drug effects and interaction, inappropriate dosing. She should also monitor the effects of the medicine [good and bad] in individual patients, provide medical counseling to patients for various diseases and lastly provide drug information to guide the public and other health professionals,” Ocampo explained.

She added that this was a service patients have to ask their pharmacists because they are entitled to get it whenever they buy their medicines.

Medicine misuse

Unfortunately, this kind of service is often not rendered here in the Philippines, where several cases of medicine misuse have been reported.

“It is a fact that there is a lot of medication errors occurring which the public may not know. The sad thing is, this error is very much preventable if only our pharmacists would really do their job,” Ocampo noted.

“We challenge the pharmacists to really do their job, meaning from educating an individual regarding a particular drug down to the selection, procurement, storage and dispensing of the drug,” Ocampo said.

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Ocampo is also appealing to hospitals and drugstore owners and operators to support pharmacists in espousing this type of practice, adding further that this is all for the good of the patient.

“Medication is too expensive for patients not to use it properly. The medication of the patient has to be really look into for the benefit of the patient, besides improper use of medicine may cause more harm than benefit,” she added.

To date, only five hospitals – Makati Medical Center, St. Lukes Hospital, Philippine General Hospital and Asian Hospital – have actually invested their resources to push pharmacists in taking on their real roles as medication managers and counselors.

Regional conference

To further encourage this practice, the PPA is currently hosting the 11th Asian Conference on Clinical Pharmacy (ACCP) at the Philippine International Convention Center.

Aptly themed “Broadening the Impact of Clinical Pharmacy in Asia through Innovations and Dynamic Partnerships,” ACCP serves as the platform for experts in clinical pharmacy education and practice to share to all pharmacists the ideas and strategies on how they could enhance the value of clinical pharmacy services in the healthcare systems in Asia.

Organizers are also hoping that through the conference, clinical pharmacy practitioners in the region will bring about innovations that may take the form of new clinical pharmacy applications, programs and interventions in a country and dynamic partnerships with other members of the healthcare team, government or nongovernment organizations, legislators and other players from the pharmaceutical companies and other countries.

“With the complexity of medications and the different types of diseases evolving in the world now, the pharmacists have to exert a little more time and effort to really find ways to be truly patient-centric while being product-knowledgeable as healthcare practitioners,” Ocampo concluded.

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TAGS: Health, Healthcare, Medical counselors, Medicines, Pharmacists
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