Paracelsus was one of the first pioneers of the medical revolution during the Renaissance and, as such, one of the people who laid the foundations of the profession of pharmacist. Since then, pharmacy has evolved and is evolving at an exponential rate in the practice of modern medicine. Ancient medicine was mainly derived from plant products and later the role of the pharmacist evolved into that of a preparer of medicines according to the practice of second artem using the particular skills and expertise of the pharmacist. With industrialization came the mass production of drugs and everything was manufactured to a high standard and this led to a dramatic change in the role of the pharmacist to that of a professional playing a much more important and intimate role in the health of the patient.
Pharmacists are the guardians of medicine and as such play an important role in the research and production of medicines. Other roles specifically included within the pharmacist’s scope of practice include formulating any drug for registration as a drug, dispensing any drug or listed substance, repackaging drugs, initiating and conducting pharmaceutical research and development, and the promotion of public health.
Medicine is a very complex commodity, and its sale cannot be managed in the same way as, for example, that of sugar and cement. Improper use can result in serious injury and even death if dosage, interval of use, and concurrent use with other medications are not carefully controlled. The pharmacist is the knowledgeable person to fulfill this informative role, is readily accessible to patients, and generally has a relationship of trust with patients that allows them to advise them on a possible drug/drug interaction or drug/food interaction or drug /family medical condition that could harm the patient.
History has shown that most patients using medication for a chronic condition like high blood pressure or high cholesterol will stop using their medication within months of starting treatment. The role of the pharmacist is to ensure that the patient is informed of the need to continue his treatment (to lead to compliance) and to monitor his vital signs (blood pressure or cholesterol or blood sugar level) and to inform the patient of any problems and to contact their physician to correct or modify the treatment regimen.
Some pharmacists hold a license under Section 22(A)15 which allows them to perform primary health care services that may involve the diagnosis and treatment of primary health conditions and to perform the screening and analysis of biological and physical parameters e.g. blood sugar, cholesterol, urinalysis, blood pressure, BMI, reproductive health services and vaccination to name a few services that can be provided by them. Other pharmacies may have a nurse practitioner in the pharmacy who could also perform some of the above functions.
The role of the pharmacist in promoting public health is to improve patient care without compromising patient safety and to increase access to health care services, increase patient choice and better use skills of health professionals.
Pharmacists add value to the medication one uses, and these value-added services can be thought of as existing along a continuum. At one end of the continuum, pharmacists focus more narrowly on drug therapy issues that arise during distribution functions (i.e., at the point of care). At the other end of the continuum, pharmacists provide ongoing medication management services to select individuals with multiple comorbidities requiring complex therapies (i.e., case management).
Your pharmacist is there to help you maintain an optimal quality of life and ensure the safe and effective use of medication! Consult them, they are there to help you!
Johann Kruger M.Pharm., M.Phil., PhD., FPS is a Director at Medwell SA – The Home Healthcare Specialists and Head of EDNA Medical Distributors, an incorporated company of Medwell SA. For more information, visit www.edna.co.za Where www.medwell.co.za
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