By: Hayeon Na, Co-Copy Editor (Content Focused)
On February 26th, 2014, pharmacists, clinical faculty, and pharmacy students from St. John’s University College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences gathered at the Freeport Memorial Library for a “Brown Bag,” one of the yearly calendar events at the public library. This event was conducted through the joint efforts of Ilene Corina who is the president of Pulse of New York, a patient advocate group, and Dr. Manouchkathe Cassagnol PharmD, CGP, BCPS, who is an Associate Clinical Professor at St. John’s University. In previous years, many members of the community attended the brown bag events which featured various clinical pharmacy faculty providing free medication reviews. This year’s event was special because the members of the community had actively lobbied for the event, and there was a Drug Information specialist and clinical faculty, Dr. Nicole Maisch PharmD, who is an Associate Clinical Professor at St. John’s University. Other clinical pharmacy faculty from St. John’s University that participated were Maha Saad, PharmD, BCPS, CGP, Nissa Mazzola, PharmD,CDE, and Michele Pisano-Krukowski, PharmD, CGP.
A brown bag event is one of the many ways in which pharmacists can reach out to the community to improve the quality of patient care. Members of the community bring in their medications (or a list) and are given the opportunity to ask pharmacists any questions they may have. Pharmacists and pharmacy interns also review and provide information about the prescription or over-the-counter medications, dietary supplements, and lifestyle choices. This way, Pharmacists can evaluate the appropriateness of medication regimens and make recommendations that impact the attendees’ daily lives.
Poly-pharmacy—the use of more than one medication by a patient—is likely the result of having multiple doctors who have an incomplete list of patients’ medications, and is becoming more commonplace. On top of that, patients often also add vitamins and dietary supplements to their laundry list of medications. An event like this is important to prevent dangerous drug-drug, drug-food, or drug-supplement interactions. Having a clear grasp of the medications and supplements one uses and the consequences of lifestyle choices (e.g. diet and exercise, or no coffee after 2PM) helps them take better control of their health and disease states. This kind of preventative care and medication review can save money for the patients and the insurance companies, and can also help keep the overall health costs down.
When the event began at 10 AM, there was an air of excitement as patrons piled in. They came in with bags of prescription bottles and dietary supplements in hand patiently waited for their turn. Many had only one or two prescription medications and over-the-counter medications, but took numerous dietary supplements. Some of the most popular counseling points were how to differentiate between reliable and unreliable drug information sources and what non-pharmacological changes could be made before initiating drug therapy. Through interventions such as these, pharmacists are often able to save the patients from the burden (e.g. economic burden, pill burden) that comes with poly-pharmacy and to enable the patients to make informed decisions regarding over-the-counter products and non-FDA regulated dietary supplements. After a session, updated medication lists along with a weekly pill organizer were given out to help improve adherence. The event came to a close around 2PM, and many community members left, happy with the service that was provided by the pharmacists.
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