APhA NPN Safe Dietary Supplement Use


According to the CDC, over half of the U.S. adult population uses dietary supplements.1 Pharmacists are one of the most accessible healthcare providers in the U.S. healthcare system, with more than 93% of Americans living within 5 miles of a community pharmacy.2 With pharmacists as one of the most accessible and trusted members of the healthcare team, there is an opportunity to provide greater resources to pharmacists to support their role in effectively and efficiently assisting patients in safe, appropriate use of dietary supplements. 

The primary consideration in counseling consumers on dietary supplements is to recognize the importance of respecting the person’s beliefs and values so that a trusting, nonjudgmental relationship can develop. The person must feel comfortable telling the provider about any use of dietary supplements. Providers should ask about all therapies being used, including dietary supplements, because consumers may not routinely disclose this information. Providers must also be able to make recommendations regarding dietary supplements, when information is available,”3 to guide appropriate selection, use, and other special considerations for optimal outcomes.

The goals of the program are: 
  • To increase consumer understanding about dietary supplement safe and effective use and special considerations in self-care, including awareness of the pharmacist as a knowledgeable, accessible resource.
  • To support pharmacists as they stay current in their knowledge about dietary supplement regulation, indications, appropriate use, and potential drug-drug/drug-nutrient interactions to effectively guide patients and foster consumer health and wellness.
1. CDC website on Dietary Supplements; http://www.cdc.gov/nchs/data/databriefs/db61.htm.
2. National Association of Chain Drug Stores (NACDS). 2011-2012 chain pharmacy industry profile. Alexandria, VA: NACDS; 2011.
3. APhA Handbook of Nonprescription Drugs: An Interactive Approach to Self-Care, 18th edition. 

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