How your pharmacist can make you healthier

Pharmacists do a lot more these days than dispense drugs. "Pharmacists have an extensive amount of training, including a doctorate in pharmacy, yet they're underused," says Michael Hochman, MD, MPH, director of the Gehr Center for Health Systems Science at the Keck School of Medicine of USC in Los Angeles.

Pharmacists do a lot more these days than dispense drugs. "Pharmacists have an extensive amount of training, including a doctorate in pharmacy, yet they're underused," says Michael Hochman, MD, MPH, director of the Gehr Center for Health Systems Science at the Keck School of Medicine of USC in Los Angeles. "Many of my ­patients don't realize that pharmacists can manage chronic diseases such as high blood pressure and type 2 diabetes as effec­tively as doctors," Hochman notes. When used appropriately, pharmacists can add a layer to your care, reduc­ing the risk of medication overuse and interactions. It is important to use only one pharmacy or chain so that your pharmacist knows which medications you take and can more easily flag poten­tial problems, says Mohamed Jalloh, PharmD, spokesperson for APhA. A yearly medication review—of the purpose and potential downsides of all your medications—can help. "But doctor visits are so quick that your pharmacist will most likely be able to spend more time with you and do a more thorough check, since they're very well-versed in drug side ­effects and drug-drug interactions," Hochman says.