Pharmacists and Chemists play a vital role in healthcare

Jim Depuy, pharmacist checking in order

Image by safoocat via FlicMake


should be part of your healthcare


Especially now the Health Bill



  • doctors cutting down on time allocated to give you advice
  • doctors prescribing the cheapest drug – often not bothering to check if you might not be able to tolerate this
  • doctors may have no time to check if a drug they prescribe will counter re-act with another

Role of pharmacists in cancer care

Neal Patel, MRPharmS, spokesperson for the Royal Pharmaceutical Society says

“We’d like to see pharmacists as a key part of the multi-disciplinary healthcare team in order to optimise the use of medicines and ensure patients get the best possible care.

The NHS reforms offer scope for pharmacists to be more involved in the commissioning and the delivery of services and we want to see pharmacists playing a more central role in improving the health of a wide range of patients, including those with experience of cancer.  Pharmacists are the experts in medicines and we know that their expertise contributes significantly to the treatment plan for cancer patients.”

Speaking to Lajja, the Pharmacist in my local Boots, I mentioned I had been prescribed yet another drug to take, and she frowned.  Went back to look at my list on her computer, then told me “I think you should check this up”.

Of course, she was right.  The ‘new’ drug should not have been prescribed alongside one of my ‘old’ ones.  But without her vigilance I could be having more problems.

So when a survey commissioned by the American Pharmacists Association (APhA) and sent by Johns Hopkins, landed in my inbox, I paid attention.

Johns Hopkins forging ahead

Since the massive American research and hospital centre, Johns Hopkins, has been awarded plaudits for the 21st year, they have been bouncing around with ideas – one of which is a survey that says they found people who know their pharmacists by name

  • tend to keep them up to date on all the medications they take
  • read the labeling information on their prescriptions
  • know their medications’ active ingredients
  • ask questions about their drugs more often

Survey:  Your Pharmacist: An Underutilised Resource

We tend to forget that Pharmacists are trained experts on pharmaceuticals.

  • They know about the chemical composition of drugs
  • how they function in the body
  • the diseases and conditions they are used to treat
  • how drugs are absorbed and metabolized by the body.

As patients, we tend to think that doctors are trained in drugs and how they react with us and our other medications.  Sorree – you would be horrified if you knew how much – er – how little time is allocated to this important aspect in doctors’ training – and I am not going to tell you because I still don’t believe the little amount of time allocated can be sufficient.

So it makes complete sense to make a friend of your pharmacist;  if they offer a service to review your medicines – take it – and talk to them about

  • the potential for harmful interactions between your prescription medications and over-the-counter drugs
  • dietary/herbal supplements, foods or alcohol
  • negative side effects you are most likely to encounter when taking medications and what you can do about them
  • activities that might be a problem while you take certain medications
  • what to do if you miss a dose
  • how to store your medications so that they retain their potency
  • ways you might be able to cut your medication costs
  • how to properly administer drugs not in pill form, such as inhalers, skin patches and nose- and eyedrops
  • advice on over-the-counter medications

Helpful advice
Help your pharmacist help you.

If you can, use one pharmacy to fill all of your prescriptions. This allows the pharmacist to keep a complete record of all the drugs you are taking. Pharmacists’ computer systems can identify potential interactions among your medications.

Tell your pharmacist if you start a new drug obtained from a different pharmacy, by mail order or on the Internet.

Finally, when filling a new prescription, inform your pharmacist about what over-the-counter medications and dietary or herbal supplements you are taking along with your prescription drugs.


US hospitals are incredibly helpful, and are a resource I turn to again and again.  They are much more inclined to think that patients have a brain, than some of the dodos I come across in British hospitals;  most of whom have never heard of Johns Hopkins, or MD Anderson, Dana-Farber, or Mayo Clinic, or any of the massive, ground breaking US cancer centres.

But if you are stuck and want to find out more about your condition – go on to their websites (in Contacts section).  You will probably find them incredibly helpful.

Johns Hopkins Health Alerts
500 Fifth Avenue
19th Floor
New York, NY 10110

This information is not intended to substitute for the advice of a physician, nurse or doctor.


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