MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — October is American Pharmacists Month and the West Virginia University School of Pharmacy and the WVU chapter of the American Pharmacists Association-Academy of Student Pharmacists are encouraging community members to “Know Your Medicine, Know Your Pharmacist” by speaking with their pharmacists about any medications they are taking.

According to a September 2010 health report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 76 percent of Americans aged 60 or older who were surveyed used two or more prescription medication in one month, and 37 percent used five or more prescription medications in one month.

“With the number of people in America taking several prescriptions a month to treat their health conditions, it’s more important than ever to speak with your pharmacist about any medication question you have,” Patricia Chase, Ph.D., dean of the WVU School of Pharmacy, said.

By speaking with your pharmacist about your medications regularly, he or she will be able to tell you if there is the potential for any medication interactions or if you should avoid any specific foods or activities while taking your medication. Your pharmacist can also help you understand how to take your medication properly.

“If you stop taking your medication or don’t take it regularly, your condition could worsen,” Gretchen Garofoli, Pharm.D., clinical assistant professor in the Department of Clinical Pharmacy, said. “For example, if you have diabetes and aren’t taking your medication, you could be hospitalized or even cause more serious health conditions.”

Pharmacists can counsel patients about their medications, coordinate patient care with physicians and other health care providers and monitor a patient’s treatment for potential side effects. But pharmacists are not only medication experts. They can perform health screenings and tests for cholesterol, blood sugar and blood pressure to prevent any future health conditions or monitor an existing health condition.

“Most pharmacists can also offer flu shots and other immunizations,” Dr. Garofoli said. “Pharmacists are sometimes the first healthcare professional a patient can see, and appointments are not necessary, so their pharmacist can really help them with their health needs and improve their quality of life.”

For more information: Amy Newton, School of Pharmacy, 304-293-7192
db/an: 10-02-11