Retail Pharmacy, Your Pharmacists Plea for Help, Help Us Protect Our Patients

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I am a pharmacist who wants to bring change to the practice of pharmacy in the retail setting. I recognize the need for a change from working in retail for 4 years for three major pharmacy chains in the United States. It makes me angry and sad at the same time that retail pharmacists are forced to work in an environment that make them put the public in danger. According to statistics, in 2017 alone, 4.1 billion prescriptions were filled by retail pharmacies in the United States. Imagine the number of lives that are affected by medication use and the number of people who are impacted by how retail pharmacists do their jobs each year. The way pharmacy is set up now, with 2 pharmacists per store and each pharmacist verify on average of over 200+ prescriptions a day. This current setup is outdated and dangerous and it is imperative that it needs to change. If retail companies do not provide the support that retail pharmacists need to do their job, your kids health are put in danger, your parents', grandparents' and all your loved ones health are put in danger.

Medications can be dangerous if not used the right way. A pharmacist's job is to use their clinical judgments and work with other healthcare providers to minimize harm. However, this is impossible for pharmacist to do with how the pharmacy is set up currently. From my personal experience, I normally verify 200-300 prescriptions by myself each day. With this volume of prescriptions along with the pressure to meet the company's demands, I was forced to rush through the prescription verification process. This process is intended to protect the patients. It is where pharmacists address problems like drug-drug interactions, drug-disease interactions, major side effects, therapeutic duplication etc. that would make medications safe for use. Pharmacists are stretched way too thin to do their job right. They have to handle phone calls from patients as well as prescribers, counsel on medications, answer OTC questions, 200+ prescriptions to verify, and when short staffed, do tech works like fill prescriptions, be cashiers, and deal with insurance issues. There is no energy left to assess medications from a clinical standpoint. That's why retail pharmacy practice today is a disservice to the patients and need to change.

We now have the tools and enough pharmacists for a new system to be put in place to make the drug use process safer. Retail pharmacists want 2 things:  1)  more pharmacists per store 2)  access to medical records.  Access to patients' medical records allows us to have the information, and more pharmacists per store to allow us to have the coverage that we need to do our job. Medication records give us a clearer picture of the patient's current health, which help us to:
1) Help prescribers select medications that are most effective, cheap, and with with minimal side effects
2) We can verify if the medication(s) selected is best for the diagnosis and if it is dosed correctly
3) In cases where patients have multiple diseases (this is most cases in retail), we can determine if the medications prescribed will exacerbate other diseases states, if so, suggest an alternative
4) We can check for the drugs-drug interactions and metabolism interactions
5) We can verify if medications are compatible with the kidney function and liver function and adjust doses accordingly
6) We can closely monitor the effects of the medication on their overall health and intervene early if its not the best regimen
7) We can also follow-up with patients regularly, check for side effects and for compliance issues

Our main goal is to make sure that the medications that each patient take home are the best regimen that their doctors and we pharmacists came up with to help them fight their disease(s). If we are allowed to do our jobs the right way, we can help cut down healthcare costs tremendously. So please help end the current broken system in retail pharmacy and help us adopt a new system that facilitates a smarter and safer way to practice pharmacy in retail.



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