Pharmacists are plunging into new areas of responsibility in their practice, widening their spheres of influence

That's one conclusion that can be drawn from an exclusive, new Drug Topics survey of a sampling of pharmacists in community and hospital settings. The findings indicate that R.Ph.s are gaining authority in some of the more nontraditional areas of the practice, such as medication selection, drug therapy management, and drug administration. At the same time, the study suggests that pharmacists are enjoying an increased level of influence with patients and physicians, but they need to roll up their sleeves and do more work if they want to raise their sagging influence scores with pharmacy benefit managers/insurers, drug manufacturers, and legislators.

Conducted by Advanstar Communications Research Services, the survey-entitled "The Power of the Pharmacist"-is based on the responses to a four-page questionnaire mailed on March 17 to 700 pharmacists, including 350 community pharmacists and 350 hospital pharmacists selected on an nth name basis from Drug Topics' circulation list. Fieldwork was closed on April 29.

It should be noted that Drug Topics conducted a similar survey on the power of the pharmacist three years ago (May 6, 2002). Although both studies are good indicators of trends in pharmacist influence, the findings are not projectable to the entire pharmacy universe.

When it comes to drug product selection, 51% of all respondents believe that pharmacists have gained authority over the past two years, 10% said they lost authority, and 38% think nothing has changed. Hospital pharmacists are more likely than community pharmacists (64% versus 40%, respectively) to say R.Ph.s have more power to influence drug selection today than they had two years ago.

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