Legislative victory builds momentum for pharmacy month

October 22, 2007

Pharmacy organizations celebrate American Pharmacists Month and look to raise awareness of the pharmacist's role in healthcare.

For the celebration, the American Pharmacists Association is pushing its slogan: "Know your medicine ... know your pharmacist." The slogan is designed to make consumers recognize the accessibility and importance of pharmacists as healthcare providers. "Our biggest priority is to get consumers to recognize that their pharmacist is there for them," APhA president Winnie Landis told Drug Topics. "We are trying to strengthen the bond between consumers and pharmacists."

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CVS Caremark also used the occasion to publicly thank its pharmacists. "Our pharmacists work hard every day to deliver high-quality pharmacy service to our customers," explained Thomas Ryan, R.Ph., president and CEO of CVS Caremark. "We're grateful for the hard work and daily commitment of these men and women across the country." CVS currently employs more than 20,000 pharmacists.

Celebrations

Pharmacies around the country are holding events that highlight the role of pharmacists. University of Iowa pharmacy students, for example, are offering free diabetes screenings, influenza vaccinations, and a blood drive, during the month of October. The month-long effort will culminate in a health fair, which will feature glucose, cholesterol and hypertension screenings, heartburn awareness education, and poison prevention education.

Many states also took the opportunity to honor pharmacists. In Alaska, Gov. Sarah Palin signed a resolution urging state residents "to recognize the vital contributions pharmacists make every day in the lives of patients, through their efforts in improving safe medication use strategies and impacting improved health outcomes, and acknowledge the valuable services of pharmacists to provide safe, affordable, and beneficial pharmacy care services and products to all citizens."

In addition to American Pharmacists Month, some organizations are also pushing shorter celebrations. From Oct. 21 to 27, hospitals will be celebrating National Hospital and Health-System Pharmacy Week, which is sponsored by ASHP. Furthermore, on Oct. 23, pharmacy technicians will be honored on the 17th annual National Pharmacy Technician Day.

Many pharmacists and pharmacy organizations hope that the pharmacy-related celebration, following on the heels of the legislative delay for tamper-resistant prescription pads, will give the industry the opportunity to raise the profile of pharmacists and to come together over common concerns. Already many are turning their attention to combating the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services' planned rollout of average manufacturer price (AMP) for Medicaid reimbursement and pushing for the expansion of behind-the-counter drugs. "All the pharmacy organizations worked very closely together on the tamper-resistant prescription pads," explained Landis. "It is evidence that when we work together things do happen that are positive for pharmacy."