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What is a Consultant Pharmacist?

Simply put, a consultant pharmacist is one of the nation’s best resources in reducing inappropriate or poorly managed use of prescription and over-the-counter drugs. For solutions to today’s complex medication challenges, the pharmacy profession is moving beyond filling prescriptions and taking on a greater role in direct patient care. This patient-focused philosophy is known as pharmaceutical care, and consultant pharmacists are on the leading edge. A broader use of pharmaceutical care strategies is one key to reducing the staggering human and economic toll of “medication misadventures,” a toll estimated to exceed $100 billion each year. Some of those strategies include:

  • Regular reviews of patients’ medication regimens to alleviate problems before they arise and help ensure patients don’t get medications they don’t need
  • Enhanced monitoring to fine-tune drug therapy for optimal results
  • Better counseling of patients to promote proper medication use and improve compliance with complex drug regimens
  • Increased collaboration among pharmacists and other members of the health care team in overall care planning and drug therapy decision-making

These are some of the medication management strategies consultant pharmacists have implemented in the nation’s nursing homes, where patients use an average of six to eight medications and typically suffer from chronic conditions that make them more sensitive to the potentially harmful effects of improper medication use. Research indicates that each year in nursing homes alone, our services save an estimated $3.6 billion in prevented hospitalizations and reduced medication costs. We advise physicians on ways to make medications work better. Sometimes a small adjustment in the dose of a drug, or a switch to a different drug of the same type, can make a tremendous difference in effectiveness. Often we find that patients are receiving medications they don’t really need or that aren’t the best choice for that individual, and we recommend a safer or more appropriate alternative.

We’re hopeful that even more Americans will soon benefit from the life-enhancing, costcutting services consultant pharmacists can bring to patient care. More health care payers and decision-makers are coming to realize the wisdom of investing in consultant pharmacists, and more people are asking their HMOs and health insurance plans about the essential services we provide.

We’re still one of the best-kept secrets in health care . . . but not for long.

America’s Senior Care Pharmacists™

Some eye-opening facts and figures:

People 65 and older use more medications than any other age group. About 75% of elderly people living in the community use at least one medi-cation daily; elderly nursing home residents typically use six to eight medications.

Normal physiologic changes of aging, such as decreased liver and kidney function and increased sensitivity to medication effects, greatly increase the risk for medication problems.

Each year, medication problems are the cause of more than 250,000 hospital stays in people 65 or over—nearly one of every six hospital stays in this age group. These avoidable hospitalizations cost an estimated $20 billion.

Medication problems are blamed for more than 32,000 hip fractures and 16,000 car accidents in older Americans each year. Many more seniors suffer other medication-related problems such as mental impairment, drowsiness or lethargy, and loss of motor coordination.