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Pharmacist and Pharmacy Technician Salary Overview

Pharmacists and Pharmacy technicians are the two main positions held in a pharmacy. They often perform similar tasks, but the salary gap between the two is significant. Pharmacists take on a supervising role in the workplace. They require a minimum of six years of education, and as a result typically see around a six figure salary. Pharmacy technicians take on the role of an assistant to the pharmacist in the workplace. They require a high school diploma/equivalent plus state requirements which vary from passing an exam to taking a course. BLS brief industry overview:

salary overviews

Although the pharmacist profession does pay higher, there is greater risk. With the current surplus of graduates and the high costs of education, getting into the field can prove to be challenging and costly. Pharmacy techs are actually seeing increased salaries and employment growth rather than pharmacists in recent years.

Pharmacy Technician Annual Salary changes:

pharm tech salaries

Location is an important factor when it comes to the pharmacy industry. Salaries differ state by state and should be brought into consideration when getting a state specific license.

pharm salary location

The same goes for pharmacy technicians, below are the top five paying states for techs.

pharm tech location

If you are having difficulty finding employment visit our pharmacy jobs page and search for pharmacy positions now! With connections to pharmacies nationwide, we provide an unparalleled service to help find the perfect job for you.

Pharmacy Graduate Woes and How We Can Help

In recent years, the pharmacy industry has gone from an excellent job market with a plethora of jobs for upcoming graduates, to an employer driven market. Previously the demand for pharmacists was high with the supply being low enough to cause a shortage of staffing in pharmacies across the nation. This raised the average salary for pharmacists to over 6 figures as community pharmacies began opening with more frequency in supermarkets and drug store chains. Institutions picked up on this trend and saw it as an opportunity to turn a profit. In the past 10 years or so the number of pharmacy schools has increased rather dramatically and have been successful as students have taken notice of the lucrative potential of a career in pharmacy.

The big winner here is the pharmacy schools. Much like the individuals that sold the jeans and shovels during the gold rush, there was an opportunity here to make money off of a positive trend.

In 2007, the pharmacy industry took a big hit (as did every industry) which initiated the change in supply and demand for graduating pharmacists. Prior to this, it was a relatively safe degree to pursue where candidates were sought after more so than employers. Pharmacy technicians at this point are seeing greater opportunity for employment than pharmacists as they are with more frequency taking on roles that pharmacists typically performed. Pharmacies found themselves losing money after 2007 which resulted in many of them closing or shortening hours and ultimately reducing employment. Pharmacy technicians require fewer years of education and have lower salaries than pharmacists which make them more financially suitable for pharmacies. Technological advancements have allowed pharmacies to take advantage of machinery help in the workplace, which also reduces the need for pharmacists. Pharmacy employers are currently in a position where they can select ideal candidates from a large pool. This is not the best place for the industry to be from a Pharm.D grad’s perspective. Don’t stress out just yet. Many current employed pharmacists are from the baby boomer generation and are beginning to move on to retirement which will open up a lot of positions for upcoming pharmacists.

This leads us to the main point of the post: how can a staffing agency help graduates who are having employment difficulties?

Partner yourself with a staffing agency sooner rather than later! Pharmacies often hire exclusively from their temporary staff as they have the opportunity to see if candidates are a good fit without running the risk of hiring a poor performing employee. These companies will also be hiring those with experience over recent grads because of the surplus of candidates; a temporary staffing agency can help you get that experience.

Job hunting alone is a great challenge as networking has become a necessity for finding employment opportunities. Companies have less pressure to reach out for candidates as the sea of graduates continues to increase year after year. Staffing agencies like us have built relationships with many pharmacies across the nation and are usually the first to know about job opportunities. Let CareerStaff Rx help you develop your network and ultimately land you a permanent position in an environment that is satisfactory for you.

Why You Should Take Advantage of a Staffing Agency

Finding a job in today’s market is hard there is no doubt about that. Fortunately for you the use of staffing agencies has become a regular practice by more and more companies. It is estimated that 90% of companies are using temporary staffing services with the industry continuing to grow each year according to the ASA (American Staffing Association).

Why?

With the economy being in the unpredictable state that it has since 2007, companies have found comfort using temporary employment services. During busy times or leaves of absences, temporary staff options are often utilized. There is less risk to employers with this option. The hiring process is an expensive one; it takes up a lot of time to go through resumes, conduct background checks, have interviews, etc. Staffing agencies go through this process with each candidate to ensure quality employees and match them with the appropriate company.

“I need a permanent job!!”

The first concern you probably have is the idea of being a temporary employee with emphasis on the temporary. Should you still consider a staffing agency?

Absolutely.

In many cases employers will take on their temporary staff as full time employees after their contracted time is over. Companies often use this temporary employment period as a trial to see if the individual is a good fit for the position. Some companies (typically larger ones) have begun to exclusively hire through a staffing agency in order to avoid extensive hiring processes and to find more competent employees. The ASA has estimated over 70% of temporary/contract employees’ move on to permanent positions after their temporary employment period. With great flexibility comes great opportunity.

Staffing agencies work with companies all over the globe and have new positions needing to be filled on a daily basis. Perhaps you still want to travel and are simply not ready to settle down with a permanent job. When employed by a staffing agency you have the option of only taking jobs that you are interested in. An agency opens up opportunities across the globe so you can pair a vacation with work.

Variety is the spice of life right? With a staffing agency you get the opportunity to work in a variety of different work settings in your industry. Finding a work environment that you can thrive in is a challenge. Moving from company to company, going through the entire hiring process each time only to discover that the job isn’t right for you is not an efficient strategy for a developing career. Not only is it an unproductive use of your time, but also a costly path for the company. Take advantage of this variety of opportunity staffing agencies offer and discover what kind of work environment is the right fit for you.

Visit our Pharmacy Jobs page and take a look around!

Legalizing International Prescription Drugs

The push to legalize imports of prescription drugs has been growing since the early 2000’s. Supporters include several state Attorneys General, governors, insurance companies, drugstore chains, congressmen, and virtually all consumers who see the expected lower price tags as extremely beneficial. However, the drug manufacturers themselves remain steadfastly opposed. If the United States were to open its borders and allow consumers to purchase their medications at the market price, this would be billions of dollars in lost revenue for the manufacturers and researchers. Nevertheless, large benefits would be seen by thousands of Medicare patients who are unable to have the federal government negotiate prices with drug producers directly as a result of laws passed regarding the program. So what is the best course of action for the country?

Many believe that legalization nationwide is inevitable. Americans are pushing for this issue and they won’t stop until they receive the results they desire. Secretary of Health and Human Services, Tommy Thompson, strongly opposed the idea while part of the Bush Administration but eventually conceded he felt Congress would most likely pass a bill in regards to this issue. However, Mr. Thompson did warn that such action could be expensive because regulators employed by the FDA would have to increase inspections of foreign pharmaceutical plants as well as monitor packages of prescription drugs entering the country. Drug companies have gone on the record to say that it will be impossible to guarantee the safety of imported drugs. They seem to imply that once the door is opened to international markets, America will be going down a slippery slope trying to monitor the drugs coming into the country. Another point of contest is their claim that Americans will not only be importing medications, but the price controls set by other companies as well.

An interesting twist in the debate came in 2004 when Thomas Ryan, CEO of CVS, became the first major drugstore chain executive to advocate in support of legalization bills. In a statement to a Health and Human Services task force he argued, “Millions of Americans have already opted to import drugs because they can’t afford not to. We owe it to them to face this issue head on and not look the other way.” Research from the Commonwealth Fund shows that 50 million Americans are not filling their prescriptions and taking vital medications due to its rising costs at US pharmacies. Ryan refuted claims that imports could not be done safely, stating that using established distributors of pharmaceuticals in America would be a viable option. Walgreens also joined the debate and gave an endorsement of proposed legalization bills, saying commercial drug imports would inevitably be safer than unregulated imports by individuals. By the end of the decade in 2010, many across the nation were of the sentiment that Americans should have access to world-class drugs at international market prices.  

Under proposals submitted to congress by 19 Attorneys General, states or their designated wholesalers would sign contracts with licensed Canadian pharmacies that met the safety standards set by the FDA for American pharmacies. Drugs would then be shipped directly to the United States. In the meantime, however, a spokesman from the FDA warned against the importation of prescription drugs stating, “These medications are illegal and may present health risks, and the FDA cannot ensure the safety, efficacy, and quality of medicine from these sources. The FDA cannot help consumers who have problems with medicine obtained from outside US regulation and oversight.” Maine became the first state to legalize imported prescriptions this year after the state House and Senate passed the law on June 13 and 14 respectively. Governor Paul LePage failed to sign or veto the bill and thus it became law that Thursday. However, for the rest of the country it seems Americans will have to continue debating the issue and searching for solutions. There is no doubt the government needs to find a long term solution to rising US drug prices, but this may not mean legalizing imported medications. Finding a balance between safety and affordability may take time.     

References:

http://www.nytimes.com/2004/05/11/us/support-is-growing-for-legalizing-imports-of-cheaper-drugs.html

http://www.pbs.org/newshour/updates/importation_05-05-04.html

http://www.npr.org/blogs/health/2013/06/27/196325173/maine-once-again-allows-mail-order-canadian-drugs-to-cut-costs

Pharmacy Staffing Agency In North Carolina

Raleigh Pharmacy Staffing Agency

Pharmacy Staffing Agency In Raleigh North Carolina

Why Should You Partner With CareerStaff Rx In Raleigh?

CareerStaff Rx is pleased to be the largest, and most respected Raleigh Pharmacy Staffing Agency in Raleigh, North Carolina. We have the largest pool of Pharmacists, and Pharmacy Technicians that are available for:

Our Relief Pharmacists and Pharmacy Technicians in North Carolina are well versed in the following pharmacy settings:

  • Long-term Care
  • Hospital Inpatient / Hospital Outpatient
  • Retail / Community
  • Home Infusion
  • Mail Order
  • PBM

We have temporary pharmacists and pharmacy technicians available as well as direct hire candidates throughout North Carolina, including:

  • Charlotte Pharmacy Staffing and Direct Hire
  • Wilmington Pharmacy Staffing and Direct Hire
  • Greensboro Pharmacy Staffing and Direct Hire
  • Asheville Pharmacy Staffing and Direct Hire
  • And all other regions of North Carolina

Interested in Learning How your Pharmacy in Raleigh Can Partner with CareerStaff Rx? Please visit our Pharmacy Clients Page

Are you interested in working for CareerStaff Rx as a North Carolina Pharmacist or Pharmacy Technician? Visit our For Candidates Page

Herbal Medicine: The Ancient Practice and New Trend (But is it Effective?)

Herbal medicine has grown increasingly popular in the last decade as more reports flood the media describing the harmful effects chemicals and synthetic substances have on the human body. Many celebrities and hippies alike have taken to the trend with many describing impressive results including weight loss, increased energy and healthier skin. The most famous instance of the switch from Western medicine may be Steve Jobs’s battle with a rare pancreatic cancer, choosing extreme diets instead of surgery and conventional chemotherapy treatments. The story of his diagnosis and early decision to rely on fruit juices, herbal remedies and acupuncture before Western methods first broke in 2008. In his biography, Walter Isaacson details the frustration and anxiety Jobs’ loved ones felt while trying to convince him of the benefits of early surgery. His family was angry and upset over the lost time spent on treatments that were ultimately abandoned for the most cutting edge technology Western medicine had developed to treat cancer. Steve Jobs was diagnosed in October 2003 and continued herbal treatments until July 2004. So if the co-founder of Apple made the switch back from herbal medicine to Western treatments, is there anything behind the talk supporting natural medication? We answer the question by looking at the pros and cons of the ancient practice.

PROS

The first thing to note about herbal treatments is that they are often used for a different function than Western medicine. Most people in the US use Western medicine to alleviate disease while herbal medications are used to maintain and promote good health. The largest benefit of natural treatments used in this way is to prevent future problems and complications. Many herbal treatments are based upon plants known as adaptogens which support healthy bodily function and increase resistance to environmental, emotional and physical stressors. Examples of such plants include rhodiola, ashwagandha, reishi and Asian ginseng.

Another benefit, simply stated, is herbs have more experience than drugs. Traditional Chinese medical physicians and Ayuryedic practitioners have been using the same formulas that were used by ancient doctors centuries ago. The medicines used to heal and prevent diseases have stood the test of time and in some countries have always been the standard practice. Conventional Western medicine was not developed until long after traditional herbal practices had been well established for hundreds of years. Today, the United States has been catching on to the trend. According to the University of Maryland Medical Center, herbal medicine has grown popular with patients trying to avoid the high cost of prescription meds and the harmful effects chemicals have on the body; both of which have been highly publicized as of late.

Finally, herbal formulas provide a natural solution to many conditions with comparable results and fewer side effects than pharmaceutical drugs in certain cases. Such herbs can be so effective because they benefit multiple body systems at once, for example a pill that boosts your immune and digestive systems. Examples of herbs with multi-systemic effects include ginseng, reishi mushrooms and astragalus, all of which can be found at local herbal supplement stores. When multiple systems benefit from one treatment it eliminates the need to take additional medications with the possibility of multiple side effects and higher price tags .

CONS

Unfortunately, for cases in which the symptoms need to be quickly alleviated, herbal medicines may not be much help. Pharmaceutical medicine targets specific symptoms to relieve them immediately, while herbal medicine is known for being more subtle. This is not necessarily the case for every herbal treatment, but it is something to consider when choosing to move away from conventional modern day practices.

Secondly, herbal medicines may not be as much of a guarantee and you may be taking on more risk as a patient. Unlike pharmaceutical manufacturers, who must prove their product’s effectiveness and safety before selling it to the public, herbal medicine manufacturers do not need to file this evidence with the United States FDA. There is no agency or organization officially charged with the oversight of manufacturing and labeling herbal medicines. The consumer may be at risk when trusting the actual contents or dosage of said herbal remedies. The best way to navigate this problem is by doing research and consulting several medical opinions before beginning your herbal regimen.  

Our take on the issue? There are benefits and risks to almost everything you do, especially in regards to health care. Do some research, find the products you think would be good additions or replacements to your current medications and then consult with your physician. Someone who knows your medical history and full medical regimen will be able to help you make the most informed decision possible. Pharmacists are wonderful people to consult as well because they are trained to understand how different medications and compounds will interact with each other. If you work in a pharmacy, make sure to brush up on the most current herbal medication trends, you may be receiving some questions!

References:

http://www.livestrong.com/article/442973-advantages-disadvantages-of-herbal-medicine/

http://www.nytimes.com/2011/10/21/technology/book-offers-new-details-of-jobs-cancer-fight.html?pagewanted=all

http://www.livestrong.com/article/449262-pros-cons-of-herbal-medicine/

 

How to Make Your Pharmacy More Profitable

Improvements in the workplace are all about making more money: for employees, for managers, for owners and for companies. However, at CareerStaff Rx we recognize that this doesn’t always mean cutting costs is a necessity. Often times improvements in productivity can boost efficiency and eliminate the need to cut expenses. Here are our top ten tips and tricks for improving efficiency in your pharmacy!

  1. Strive to do work only you can do. Delegation can be the most useful tool in a pharmacy or any office. By delegating tasks amongst team members, you ensure that everyone is working on an assignment that best suits their skill set. It is important to train your staff or co-workers and provide benchmarks to ensure they understand the tasks and complete them as desired. Giving feedback will guarantee the job is done to the best of everyone’s ability
  2. 2.     Only do the work that needs to be done. It is easy to eliminate unnecessary work by requiring every member of the staff to fill out a daily task list. This will demonstrate how everyone spends their time on the job and may provide the opportunity to see where inefficiencies lie and what solutions can be implemented (by using a computer to do the work instead or reducing the number of people working on the same task ect).
  3. Write before you speak. Communication can sometimes be more reliable when written, rather than spoken. If you are discussing a long list of items it may be beneficial to send an email or write it down before speaking in person. This way both people have a copy to look back on when doing the work in the future. Even if one of you can’t remember every detail, the information will be available to look back on to figure out what work to do without having to repeat portions of the conversation.
  4. Organize the kind of communication you use to improve efficiency. Try to distinguish when a phone call, email, short notice, instant message or in person conversation is more appropriate/useful. This will ease communication and ensure complete clarification.
  5. Know when you’re busy. Keep track of when your busiest times tend to be and prepare the pharmacy adequately in order to serve customers as best and quickly as possible.
  6. Don’t rely on memory. Avoid counting on staff to be careful or remember everything you want them to do. Instead, use systems such as tickler files, calendars, checklists, email chains, and printed forms that remind staff for you each day. If you are using one of these forums, make sure you work through tasks systematically in the most efficient order and don’t neglect any.
  7. Always be one step ahead of inventories. Keep track of the supplies which your stock is running low on so that you can order more in time and avoid a backorder which will cost you time and make customers frustrated. It is possible to do so by placing colored paper towards the back of the shelf where supplies are kept – when the paper is visible it is time to order more supplies. If certain supplies are regularly used get on a schedule for how often you need to order them, such as replacing your printer ink on the first of every month.  
  8. Make some noise. Working in silence all day isn’t necessarily the most productive option. In fact, music can make you more productive. Classical music has been said to boost spatial-temporal reasoning, although this does not work for everyone. In any case, the rhythm and pace of the music you’re listening to can also help you move at the right pace and keep motivation up while also blocking out other distractions that would be audible in a silent workspace. Build a playlist with the best songs for your individual pharmacy setting. 
  9. Put it on hold. Take a short 5 minute break when feeling distracted to help gather your thoughts and re-focus on the tasks you need to accomplish. Sometimes taking a breather from looking at the computer screen or sitting in the same position can help you feel more energized and productive.
  10. Create a hierarchy. Organize drawers and computer icons according to the frequency of their use. By creating a hierarchy so that your most commonly used items are in the top drawer or easiest to access, you will save yourself the time it takes to sift through irrelevant material. 

 

Unknown Facts in the Pharmacy Industry

Demand for pharmacists remains high and increases annually due to the fact that more and more drugs are being prescribed to Americans. Additionally, Americans spend more on medicine than any other group in the world. As their medications skyrocket in price, citizens continue to hand out the cash for the latest pill that comes their way. What has this meant for pharmacists? Salaries have increased to roughly 50 dollars an hour on average with options to work virtually anywhere as major retail pharmacies like Walgreens expand at a rapid rate. This means as a pharmacist one is able to have a flexible schedule and be selective about the jobs one takes. CareerStaff Rx provides travel, permanent, temporary, and local contract placement services for all employees, showing the range of possibilities open to pharmacists and technicians today. In addition, the pharmacy industry has expanded to include retail, hospital, consulting, long-term care, mail order, corrections, industrial, nuclear, community and home health care settings. Even in the last fifty years, the pharmacy industry has grown to become one of the most equal job markets for men and women. Females made up only 8% of the industry in 1950 and represent a majority today at 55%. With all this evidence, CareerStaff Rx recognizes that the industry is constantly changing, growing and reinventing itself. Here are a few surprising facts you may not know…but should!

  1. The fact that prescription prices have been increasing is a surprise to no one. However, the rapid rate may be! According to Marcia Angell in her new book, The Truth About Drug Companies, prescription medications are the fastest growing part of health care bills. Americans today have higher increases in drug costs than the costs they are paying to see a doctor and receive professional medical advice! Dr. Angell explains this is because we are being prescribed and taking more drugs than ever before. These are likely to be newer, innovative drugs and thus more expensive in the first place. Additionally, prices are increased routinely throughout the year as well.
  2. Consumers aren’t the only ones cashing out for their prescriptions, however. Some pharmaceutical companies are spending more on their marketing than their research. In some cases this can mean twice as much money spent on promotional campaigns as research and development of the drugs themselves. The entire industry spent over $33.5 billion on marketing costs in 2004. A study by two York University researchers, “supports the position that the U.S. pharmaceutical industry is marketing-driven and challenges the perception of a research-driven, life-saving, pharmaceutical industry that values the lives of its patients, rather than their spending habits.”
  3. As an educated pharmacist, you may recognize many of the “new” drugs appearing on the market these days. In reality, most new drugs are not that new at all. A recent study found “that two-thirds of the prescription drugs approved by the Food and Drug Administration between 1989 and 2000 were identical to existing drugs or modified versions of them. Only about one-third of the drugs approved by the FDA during the time period were based on new “molecular entities” that treat diseases in novel ways.” However, these “new” drugs will cost consumers more because the drug companies have to extend their patents and cash out to promote the new product.

Pharmacist: Best Job for Women

The health sector has been a booming industry for Americans over the last decade, with over 15 million employed in some kind of medical profession. Throughout the recession of 2008, the health care sector continued to hire more employees than any other sector. Technical innovations have played a large role in this phenomenon because many new developments have directly influenced medical technology. This has resulted in a change in even the way health care is administered. Today, just over half (54%) of all pharmacists still fill prescriptions behind the counter at retail stores across the country. The rest have broadened the scope of pharmacy to include more flexible, interesting career options. These include providing professional training and consulting for drug manufacturers and the FDA, working remotely for medication-management services, coordinating prescriptions for chronically ill patients who receive care from multiple physicians. Anne Burns of the American Pharmacists Association says, “There’s a big trend toward doing this coordination work by phone and videoconferencing so you can set your own hours and work from home.”

This kind of schedule flexibility has proven to be very attractive to women who now make up 55% of the profession. They are able to choose hours in order to maintain family life, social responsibilities and time for hobbies. Even those women who do still work full time at retail pharmacy drug stores have found more flexibility in the last decades with the boom of major chain stores. Companies like Walgreens and Rite Aid offer fewer barriers to entry and flexible work schedules just given their immense size. The pay is a very attractive incentive, well into the six figures even for relatively new pharmacists. In 2011 full time female pharmacists earned a median salary of $111,000 and the mean hourly wage for part-timers came to $52.59. This equates to about 92 cents to the dollar of male pharmacist wages. Pharmacy has been described as the most equal profession for men and women because this discrepancy arises from more women working shorter hours not any kind of gender discrimination. 

Lucinda Maine, CEO of the American Association of Colleges of Pharmacy describes how all these factors, most especially the flexibility, drew her in to the pharmacy industry and pharmacy school. She says, “That was really the magnet. I can be a health professional. It’s a reasonable length of study. The job itself is in a clean, professional environment, and I have some work-life flexibility.” The field seems to be particularly well suited to the strengths many women interested in pharmacy have. They experience the challenge of science and technologies involved in the practice of pharmacy, but are also required to be great communicators and nurturers for their patients. This in addition to the fact that women have grown not only to be taken seriously in the profession, but also desired for these positions. The combination of work-life flexibility, impressive starting out salary, equality in the field and intellectual challenge makes pharmacy one of the top professions for women. Unlike other female dominated professions, pharmacy has avoided the “pink-collar” curse and wages have continued to increase even as women have entered the field. It seems pharmacy is an ideal profession for not only women, but men looking for flexibility and strong wages as well.   

References:

http://www.buzzle.com/articles/best-medical-careers-for-the-future.html

http://jobs.aol.com/articles/2013/02/15/pharmacist-equal-pay-women/

 

Is Less Really More When it comes to Prescriptions?

The danger taking too many medications has been hotly debated as of late. At CareerStaff Rx the issue has particular importance because we recognize our employees in the pharmacies are the last check before a prescription falls into the hands of a patient. We believe it is valuable to stay current on this kind of information in order to continue providing the best quality of service. It seems there is a prescription to cure almost any ailment, but does that mean we should be taking every one that comes our way? Michael Wincor, a professor at the University of Southern California, says it is common for patients to receive several prescriptions from a multitude of different specialists who each focus on a different problem with the patient. This kind of medicine becomes dangerous when the specialists neglect to communicate with the other physicians the patient is seeing. Often times the adverse effects of mixing medications lead patients to believe they have a new problem or worsening condition. In reality, the cause of these effects may be bad interactions between the drugs taken by a patient. “The drug-drug interactions can be worse than the disease,” says John Morley, the director of geriatric medicine at the St. Louis VA Medical Center. The problem is often exacerbated because, “doctors seem to suspend common sense when devising a treatment plan” he says. One patient may be prescribed Aricept for Alzheimer’s which often causes urinary incontinence and then be given Ditropan to treat side effect. The problem is Ditropan itself often causes delirium, confusion and memory loss. Doctors should only be prescribing drugs with benefits to the patient that outweigh the risks for that individual, that is why Americans pay to see them and consult their medical expertise.  

But are doctors the only ones to blame for the problems of overmedication? Bruce Psaty, a professor at the University of Washington, says another problem is, “companies often lack an interest in addressing safety questions after a drug is approved” by the FDA for market use. Danger also arises from the fact that clinical studies may not fully demonstrate the risks associated with a product for long-term use or for people with multiple health problems and multiple medications. Pharmaceutical companies are also in the business for profit, which is something consumers need to remember. Commercials advertise strong anti-depressants to treat mild cases of “feeling alone” and this helps drive demand. The trend of treating mild ailments with strong medications is prevalent in both young and old patients. Prescription drug usage has increased 39% in the last decade according to the Kaiser Family Foundation. Today 61% of adults use at least one drug to treat a chronic health problem which is a 15% increase since 2001. Mixing medicines has become particularly dangerous for seniors, 25% of whom take at least 5 different medications daily. Seniors are also classified as the most at risk group for serious negative consequences from side effects. Dr. Russ Altman, a professor at Stanford University, states, “Many side effects from drug interactions (not all) are exacerbations of known side effects of the single drugs that are made worse by the two drugs together.” Seniors are particularly at risk because of the sensitivity to these interactions caused by their old age.

However medicine, even the strongest prescription, is not always bad. So who exactly is responsible for its safe practice? Clearly doctors and pharmaceutical companies should be accountable for using safe methods of both testing and prescribing drugs. Additionally, as a trusted, reliable source of information, pharmacists should ensure they double check the prescription orders of their customers and discuss points of concern. However, patients also need to ask questions themselves and act as their own advocate. Questions like, “What are the side effects of this medication? What will these effects do to someone with my medical history? And what are the benefits of this drug for me?” are great conversations to have with their specialists, physicians and pharmacists. A pharmacist may, in fact, be the best person to talk to considering they could be the only one with every prescription or piece of information in front of them. Therefore, pharmacies should be encouraging their pharmacists to hold conversations with customers. The nature of medication guarantees that drugs will, by definition, have some toxic, negative side effects. It is important to keep this in mind from the perspective of a pharmacist as well as a patient the next time a prescription is being filled.  

References:

http://www.cnn.com/2011/HEALTH/05/31/med.nation.too.many.meds/index.html

http://health.usnews.com/health-news/managing-your-healthcare/diabetes/articles/2010/10/07/overmedication-are-americans-taking-too-many-drugs?page=2