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Pharmacists play an important yet understated role in public health, providing services other than medication dispensing. To address the demands of the public, both pharmacy practice and education have developed. The present pharmacist generation must adjust to new practice patterns.

Today, let us look at the history of pharmacy, its current position in public health, and its future influence. Read on to discover, understand, and appreciate the vital role of pharmacists in public health.

A Brief History of Pharmaceuticals

The twentieth century was defined by soda fountains and compounded pharmaceuticals. The majority of drugs were compounded in the 1920s, while just 25% were by 1950. Because the number of final dosage forms was rapidly increasing, numerous pharmacists attempted to do more than just deliver prescriptions.

In the 1980s, pharmacists sought clinical recognition. Pharmacists were trained as immunizers in the late 1990s, and drug therapy management pilot studies were launched (more on this below).

Pharmacists are responsible for ensuring safe and appropriate medication administration as well as providing direct patient care.

The Top Health-Care Services Provided by Pharmacists

Aside from health and wellness services and prescription-related needs, our modern pharmacists offer a variety of services, such as:

  • Education

Pharmacists teach future pharmacists, doctors, nurses, and PAs.

  • Clinical Drug Development

Pharmacists evaluate clinical trial safety, prepare regulatory submissions, and provide pharmacovigilance to detect pharmacological risks.

  • Expertise

Pharmacists serve as expert advisors to the CDC, FDA, pharmacy boards, and the USP. They manage drug shortages, shift treatment standards, and critical care in inpatient settings, in addition to giving vaccines and COVID testing in outpatient settings.

  • Drug Safety

Hospital pharmacists and Institute for Safe Medication Practices (ISMP) pharmacists devote their whole careers to preventing pharmaceutical-related risks, but all practice drug safety.

  • Medication Therapy Management (MTM) 

Pharmacists help patients understand their prescriptions and how to take them correctly. MTM ensures that every practitioner has access to a medication list. The pharmacist evaluates the patient’s medications, identifies and prioritizes drug-related concerns, and makes a strategy to address them during the first MTM session, known as a complete medication review. For each patient, providers acquire drug therapy recommendations and a medication list. The CDC claims that MTM is effective.

  • Pharmacogenomics

Pharmacogenomics allows pharmacists to tailor drugs based on genetic tests. These pharmacists want to limit the amount of drugs that are ineffective or hazardous. Pharmacogenomics has been used in oncology for some time, such as with irinotecan, which can produce side effects in some patients, and Herceptin, which only works in people with specific gene variations in breast cancer. Genetic testing can help pharmacists manage depression, pain, and a variety of heart diseases.

  • Vaccination

Americans regularly get vaccines from their neighborhood pharmacy. The CDC is aware of its impact on public health.

Looking Ahead: Pharmacists in Public Health

Pharmacists will face new challenges and opportunities. To protect public health, we must overcome a variety of challenges. Pharmacists must do the following:

  1. Make changes to the healthcare business. Pharmacists must meet the needs of their customers. Pharmacists will be asked to provide telemedicine services as a result of the COVID-19 outbreak.
  2. Increase practice in order to meet the need for healthcare. Drug costs will rise due to an older population and advances in pharmaceutical research. To satisfy this increased need, pharmacists must assure proper medication intake, expand wellness programs, especially in low-income areas, and make MTM and pharmacogenomics more accessible to high-risk patients. Pharmacists can lower healthcare expenses and boost accessibility by overcoming these barriers.
  3. Provide incentives for cognitive services. Typically, pharmacists are not compensated for their ability to think. Community pharmacists offer over-the-counter information and help people decide when to see a doctor. Inpatient cognitive services include the administration of vancomycin and gentamicin, as well as the transition from intravenous to oral drugs.

Conclusion

Since taking on responsibility for pharmaceutical outcomes, pharmacists have made major contributions to protecting public health, enhancing access to care, and lowering costs. Pharmacists provide care through MTM, pharmacogenomics, and vaccinations. Pharmacists’ ability to be acknowledged and compensated for their comprehensive services is critical to the future of pharmacy.

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