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The word Pharmacy is derived from the Greek word "pharmakos" which means drug. This medical discipline (Pharmacy) is where the health science profession meets chemical science. The pharmacy is charged with making sure that the medications you receive are safe and effective. There are several roles that the pharmacy can play in your health and the management of certain conditions and treatments that may be prescribed to you by your physician. Pharmacies have long been know for compounding and dispensing medications, however today pharmacies also play a greater role in patient care which may include clinical services, reviewing medications for safety and efficacy as well as providing drug information that may be important in the way you take your medications and how you use them.
The Pharmacist is the expert on drug therapies and they are often called upon to optimize medication use so that the patient has the best possible outcome when using prescription medications as well as other forms of OTC (over the counter medications) products. Pharmacist are highly educated professionals that have spent may years of study to understand the interaction of drugs on diseases and what drugs are most effective for different types of medical conditions. As a result of the great importance the Pharmacists has on your health and their management of the drugs that will help you get better, the selection of a pharmacy and a Pharmacist is very important. Often people are not aware of the great wealth of information that is available from your Pharmacist and how they may be helpful to you. It is our intent to provide useful information for our users so that they can better leverage the interaction of your pharmacy, Pharmacist and Physician and receive the best possible results from the medication(s), the visit to the pharmacy and your interaction with the Pharmacist. We also want to provide useful information that may help save money when purchasing prescription drugs, either name brands or generic drug products. We want to make it easy for you to start to compare prices on drugs and having a comprehensive pharmacy directory with correct demographic information will provide a simple means for you to obtain information on all pharmacies of interest to you and allow you to shop for the products that you need over the phone first, then by visiting the pharmacy you have selected. We will present information to you in the form of comprehensively outlined key considerations complemented by a blend of meaningful information we hope you will be able to use.
There have been many studies performed over the years to ascertain what makes a good Pharmacist and what characteristics people desire when dealing with a Pharmacist. A study that was done in 2005 and published in Pharmacy Week outlined some of the key characteristics that Pharmacist should display when dealing with patients. One of the most important findings was a good Pharmacist is commitment to a life long process of learning. New drugs are developed everyday and understanding how they work on the patient and what might be the side effects of these new drugs are very important pieces of information that a Pharmacist must know and be able to communicate. The Pharmacist should be able to speak with you in your language and answer any questions about medication(s) that you may have. They should be able to explain how certain drugs work and when you should take them and what kind of food you should consume with taking your medication(s). Pharmacist should be very analytical and pay attention to details. After all there are lots of different drugs out there and making sure that you get the right one, at the right time is a key consideration for the improvement of your condition or management of disease. Patients also wanted to deal with a Pharmacist that had a good attitude and genuinely displayed a caring attitude to their customers. In March of 2000, the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) published a study that showed that Pharmacists and Doctors working together reduced side effects and mistakes using medicines. Other studies have shown that Pharmacists can reduce the number of needed doctor and hospital visits for many patients.
Pharmacists are responsible for distributing prescription medication to individuals. In every state a Pharmacist must be licensed with the State that they practice in. Pharmacists also advise patients, doctors and other healthcare professionals on the selection, dosage, interaction and duration of the treatment using medications. In general Pharmacists monitor the health and progress of patients to ensure the safe and effective use of medications. A license to practice pharmacy can be obtained by anyone who meets the requirements. These requirements encompass graduation from an accredited college of pharmacy (ACPE), you must pass a series of examinations known as the North American Pharmacists Licensure Exam (NAPLEX) which test pharmacy skills and knowledge. Forty Four (44) states require the applicant to pass the Multistate Pharmacy Jurisprudent Exam (MPJE) which tests pharmacy law. Both of these exams are administered by the National Association of Boards of Pharmacy (NABP). The other eight (8) states that do no offer the MPJE require that the applicant pass those specific States exam covering pharmacy law.
As important as the Pharmacist is so is the pharmacy you select. Your selection should include a clean and well stocked store. People should be available to help you in the selection of healthcare products or answer questions you might have about products and there use. There are pharmacies located in retail stores, hospitals, clinics and nursing homes. All Pharmacies are required to have a Registered Pharmacist on duty at all times.
Pharmacies or the first drug stores were opened by Muslim Pharmacists in Baghdad in 754 (AD). Much of the advances made in the middle east relating to botany and chemistry lead the Muslims to develop the study of pharmacology. Pharmacology is the study of how drugs interact with living organisms to produce a change in function. This area of study is very important as it helps us learn about how drugs work, what their toxicity levels are, and their most effective form of application as well as what conditions and diseases are best treated with the drug.
Type of Pharmacies
There are several types of pharmacies in the U.S. and each has a different interaction with patients and serves different needs.
Community pharmacies are the type of pharmacies most people are accustomed to. These include the large chain stores such a Rite-Aid, CVS, Wallgreen, WalMart and others. Also included in this family of pharmacies are the neighborhood pharmacies. As times have changed so has changes been made at the local neighborhood pharmacy. To remain competitive with the large chains that typically sell prescriptions and other healthcare aids at discount prices, the small community stores have had to become more competitive. And they have! Very often the smaller pharmacies provide enhanced services with regard to the accessibility and interaction with the Pharmacist. Typically the local Pharmacist knows the customers personally and develops a strong relationship with their patients, often a relationship built on trust, respect and value. And very often the small local pharmacy can provide medications that are competitively priced. Shopping for the right pharmacy provides you with another tool in your arsenal of consumer support tools and healthcare support options necessary for you and your family to properly navigate the healthcare system. Get to know your Pharmacist they can be a great help in educating you and making sure that the medications you are taking are working properly and are providing the intended results.
Other types of less well know pharmacies include hospital pharmacies which cater to the needs of the patient in the hospital. Often the Pharmacist that works in the hospital pharmacy has more complex medication issues than at community pharmacies. Pharmacists that work in the hospital generally have more education and training after pharmacy school which might include additional residency training programs in special areas.
Clinical pharmacies normally employ a clinical pharmacist on staff. Clinical Pharmacists provide direct patient care services that optimize the use of medications, promote health, wellness and disease prevention. Clinical pharmacists also collaborate with Physicians and other healthcare professional and are considered an integral part to the interdisciplinary approach to patient care.
Consultant pharmacies are becoming more popular these days as a result of older patients living longer at home. Consultant Pharmacist work with Nursing Homes and also are involved in tailoring drug delivery systems and dose preparations. These professionals might also work for large pharmacy network organization. There primary function is to advise people about their medications and are often the patient's personal health care expert. These healthcare professionals strive to prevent medication errors, adverse drug reactions, and drug interactions. The most important function is to ensure that the medications are safe, appropriate and effective in terms of treating the specific medical condition for which the drug was intended.
Compounding pharmacies provide services in the preparation of drugs for administration. An example of this type of work might be the compounding a tableted drug into a medicated lollipop. These pharmacies often dispense non-compounded drugs as well.
Internet pharmacies started to appear on the scene in 2000 and more are coming on-line every month. Most of the internet pharmacies dispense prescriptions and require a valid prescription for each dispensation and or a consultation with a physician over the phone. Many people are ordering drugs on-line to avoid the inconvenience of visiting the doctor or the pharmacy. It should be noted that often these pharmacies do not provide significant savings when consultation, shipping and handling are included in the cost of the prescription. Some people use the internet to acquire drugs that their personal physician will not prescribe. You should understand the reasons that your personal physician will not provide a prescription for the drug you think you want or need. It would serve every consumer well to check with the State that the Internet Pharmacy is located in and also check to see if the pharmacist is licensed in the State. Obviously there is no real way of checking on an internet pharmacy that is located outside of the U.S. as rules and regulations are almost assuredly different in those geographies.
A study that was published in "Annals of Internal Medicine – Volume 131 – Number 11", December 1999 evaluated forty-six (46) internet pharmacy web sites. Thirty-seven sites (33 based in the United States and 4 based outside the United States) required a prescription from a personal physician or from an Internet physician consultation. Nine sites based outside of the United States did not require a prescription or physician consultation. The median cost of an Internet physician visit was $70 (range, $20 to $90), more than 15% higher than that for a general practice visit in the Philadelphia region. Quality of physician consultation, physician qualifications and specialty, and geographic location were unknown. Median price per pill of the two most commonly offered medications was 10% higher on the Internet (before shipping charges) than at Philadelphia pharmacies [$5.49 and $4.50 for sildenafil (Viagra)]; [$1.94 and $1.83 for finasteride (Proscar)]. Buyer beware!
Veterinary pharmacies are sometimes called animal pharmacies and primarily stock different varieties of different strengths of medications applicable to the needs of animals. There are specific regulations relating to animal medications which are different that those regulations for drugs used for people. Often the veterinarian pharmacies are not located in proximity to a pharmacy that provides medications for people.
Nuclear pharmacies focus on the preparation of radiopharmaceuticals for use in diagnostic medicine and other diagnostic procedures. Nuclear Pharmacists undergo additional training that includes radiation physics, specific radioactive handling techniques and radioactive dose calibration techniques which makes sure that the patient is given the appropriate and safe level of the radioactive material. Nuclear Pharmacist do not usually meet with patients as their interactions are more with the Radiologist, Oncologists, Nuclear Medicine Technologist or Radiation Therapists.