Rich with medication knowledge, today's pharmacists-or a growing legion of them-are extending their reach into new areas of patient care. In the process, they are helping to redefine the practice and make the pharmacist an even more valuable and powerful member of the health-care team.
Evidence that this is happening can be gleaned from a new Drug Topics on-line survey entitled "The Power of the Pharmacist," conducted from May 30 through June 14. Findings are based on responses from 520 retail pharmacists and 667 hospital pharmacists in all major regions of the country. Drug Topics' circulation lists were used to create the sample.
More influence: From where?
As was the case two years ago, pharmacists are reporting more gains than losses in authority or influence in several emerging practice areas. In one such area-drug administration-35% of the hospital pharmacists and 22% of the retail pharmacists said that they have increased their influence over the past year. Few in both groups noted losses. Most saw no changes in authority/influence during the previous year when it came to drug administration.
In the dosage selection area, 55% of the hospital pharmacists and 27% of the community pharmacists noted that they had gained influence during the past year. Only 4% of the hospital R.Ph.s and 12% of the retail pharmacists reported losing authority in that area.
Responding to a separate set of questions, retail pharmacists reported gains and losses of influence in the following areas: generic drug substitution (57% gained, 5% lost), the substitution of a patent-protected brand drug to a different generic moiety (33% gained, 9% lost), and medication therapy management, or MTM (38% gained, 13% lost). About one-third of the retail respondents think that the MTM provision of Medicare Part D legislation has increased pharmacists' influence, 14% said it has decreased it, 31% think it has had no effect on pharmacists' influence, and 23% don't know what effect it has had.
Separately, hospital pharmacists were asked how they fared in the selection and recommendation of prescription drug products. More than half (54%) said that they had become more influential in that area during the past year, while 6% said they lost ground.
More influence: From whom?
As they did in 2005, retail and hospital pharmacists reported mixed results when it came to their influence over certain groups or individuals. Among all pharmacists, there were major gains in influence over the past year with physicians, patients, physician assistants, and nurse practitioners.