Here to help: Pharmacists offer expert advise on everyday healthcare. *MCT Photo
Here to help: Pharmacists offer expert advise on everyday healthcare. *MCT Photo

WEDNESDAY, JAN. 9: The World Health Organization says a pharmacist is “an adviser to the public on everyday healthcare and is a key figure in the supply and delivery of medicines to the consumer.” This small definition encompasses the work that is done by a pharmacist on a daily basis in the process of filling prescriptions, answering questions and requests for information and recommendations in the selection of over-the-counter medications.

Although people have been using medicinal substances to treat themselves for as far back as there have been people, the pharmacy profession can be traced back as far as the Sumerian population, now living in modern day Iraq. From around 4,000 BC, they used medicinal plants such as liquorice, mustard, myrrh, and opium.

The Sumerians wrote the earliest surviving prescriptions from at least 2700 BC — so nearly 5,000 years ago.

From there, pharmacists have evolved into much more and play a key role in providing quality healthcare to patients.

Pharmacist responsibilities include a range of care for patients, from dispensing medications to monitoring patients’ health and their response to the medication.

Pharmacists also educate consumers and patients on the use of prescription and over-the-counter medications, and advise physicians, nurses, and other health professionals on drug decisions.

They also provide expertise about the composition of drugs, including their chemical, biological, and physical properties and their manufacture and use. We ensure drug purity and strength and make sure that drugs do not interact in a harmful way.

We are drug experts ultimately concerned about our patients’ health and wellness, yet many people in today’s society don’t take advantage of all their pharmacist can offer.

Part of the training pharmacists receive is in communications and working with patients to solve their health concerns. We can provide advice on everything from common problems such as coughs, colds, aches and pains to healthy eating and stopping smoking. We can also help you decide whether you need to see a doctor for further evaluation.

Of course, most importantly, pharmacists accurately dispense prescriptions which may involve them asking several questions. First, the pharmacist needs to verify that the patient information is correct to make sure medications are given to the right person. You should go to the same pharmacist for all your prescriptions so that your medical history will be on file and the pharmacist can check for any interactions between your new prescription and any medications you currently take.

Then the pharmacist needs to verify that the correct drug and strength is chosen and that the information put on the label matches what the doctor has written on the prescription.

Finally, a pharmacist should provide some patient counselling to explain what the medication is for and how it is to be taken as well as any side effects that the patient might experience. That’s your cue to jump in with any questions or concerns.

Please remember that your pharmacist is there to help you, and you don’t even need an appointment. Any interaction with your pharmacist is confidential, so don’t ever hold back or leave your pharmacy with unanswered questions.

Stephanie Simons is the head pharmacist at Lindo’s Pharmacy in Devonshire. For helpful information, visit Lindo’s at www.lindos.bm.