They're all ears

November 7, 2005

Exclusive Drug Topics survey finds that most patients heed their R.Ph.'s OTC recommendations

AT A GLANCE

As in the case of E. F. Hutton, when pharmacists talk, patients listen. They certainly hang on the words of these professionals when it comes to recommendations for over-the-counter products.

This finding comes from an exclusive Drug Topics survey of a sampling of pharmacists in chain, independent, mass-merchandiser, and other settings.

The respondents practice in all regions of the country. Sixty-two percent are male, 38% female. Thirty-nine percent work in chains, 34% in independent pharmacies, and the remainder in supermarkets, discount/ mass-merchandiser stores, or other outlets. Forty percent of the respondents work at pharmacies with an annual gross store volume of $2 million or more, 35% work at pharmacies with a store volume between $1 million to less than $2 million, and 26% work in pharmacies with a store volume of less than $1 million.

When it comes to counseling patients on OTCs, 68% of pharmacists responding to the Drug Topics' survey said they counsel roughly the same number of customers per week on OTCs compared with one year ago, more than a quarter reported counseling more customers, while only 5% mentioned counseling fewer customers.

Janet Engle, Pharm.D., associate dean for academic affairs and clinical professor of pharmacy practice, University of Illinois at Chicago College of Pharmacy, applauded the finding that pharmacists counseled at least the same number or more customers this year than they did in 2004. "With the huge selection of OTC medications available, many consumers are confused and aren't sure which product is the best for their condition," she said. "Consumers are relying more and more on advice from their pharmacist to help them navigate through the OTC aisles. The pharmacist is no longer simply a dispenser of drugs, and the pharmacy itself has become a healthcare center. Pharmacists are actively changing their practices to meet the challenges of the healthcare system and their patient's OTC medication needs and demands."