The answer would be yes, according to a recent study from the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Services that was funded by the National Association of Chain Drug Stores (NACDS). As budgets are in decline for public health resources, pharmacies can be leveraged as a community resource to advance community-based health priorities. Teaming up pharmacists with other health professionals can have a positive effect on patient outcomes while reducing health care costs.
Pharmacists can play a bigger role within their community with such issues as combating the epidemic of opioid abuse, preventing antibiotic resistance and having plans in the event of emergencies like bioterror attacks.
Fighting Opioid Abuse
Reform is needed to lift restrictions on the role of pharmacies with opioid abuse education and intervention. Currently, only 23 states allow the purchase of naloxone at pharmacies without a prescription. Working with public health organizations, pharmacists can help reduce the number of new addictions, as well as facilitating treatment for addiction and overdose.
Preventing Antibiotic Resistance
All too often antibiotics are over prescribed, which leads to antibiotic resistance. If implemented, statewide protocols could allow for pharmacists to test for viral infections before dispensing antibiotic prescriptions that are ineffective for treating viruses.
Planning Emergency Response
With some pharmacies already offering vaccinations, protocols can be extended in response to flu pandemics or bioterror attacks. Such protocols will integrate pharmacists as an important resource to health emergency response for underserved or displaced populations for access to basic care.
What do you think? Do you agree that pharmacists should be more involved in patient care?