Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, pharmacists have served actively on front lines along with other health care workers. From keeping the doors of their pharmacies open as primary care centres to collaborating with physicians and nurse practitioners during the COVID-19 pandemic, pharmacists have been working hard to ensure that their patients continue to receive adequate care. Yet, not a lot of people are fully aware of the different ways pharmacists can be helpful to them. The profession of pharmacy is way more than just compounding mixtures and dispensing medicines. It is about knowing our patients and understanding their needs.
In Canada, and specifically in Ontario, the last few decades have seen an expansion in the role of pharmacists in health care provision. Pharmacists are educators and drug experts among several other roles. And COVID-19 pandemic has lowered neither their dedication nor their keenness in providing optimal care to their patients.
As educators, pharmacists help their patients understand their therapy. Let’s say, your doctor has prescribed you a medication and you have no idea how it would work: well, a pharmacist can just be the right person to explain all you need to know about your therapy. Or you feel like a medication is not working well for you: a consultation with your pharmacist may be helpful. They can inform you about other options to consider and what to expect from them, so that you can make an informed decision regarding your therapy. Similarly, if you have any common ailment, such as constipation or common cold, or need therapy for quitting smoking, your pharmacist can always recommend and in some cases prescribe medications for you.
Pharmacists are also drug experts. A significant part of their expertise lies in medication management. Since they have an in-depth knowledge of how different medications work, they are well-equipped to make recommendations regarding their patient’s therapies. For example, here at Guildview pharmacy during COVID-19 pandemic, we noticed that one of our patients was not on an adequate blood pressure therapy. He was on two medications, namely, amlodipine 10 mg and candesartan 2 mg. Amlodipine mainly works by relaxing the blood vessels. Candesartan, on the other hand, works by preventing the kidneys from retaining water in the body, relaxing the blood vessels and a few other ways. Additionally, candesartan also has a protective effect on kidneys at appropriate doses. In this patient, the dose of candesartan was too low to provide any kidney protective effect. So we wrote a letter to his doctor recommending
an increase in the dose of candesartan to 4mg while reducing the dose of amlodipine to 5 mg for adequate blood pressure control, improved kidney protection and minimal risk of low blood pressure symptoms (such as dizziness). Therefore by simple dosage adjustments, we helped optimize patient’s therapy for additional long term benefits.
At Guildview pharmacy, we make an effort to get to know our patients well so that we can help them manage their therapy and make informed health related decisions. Even during the COVID-19 pandemic, we have been following up with our patients on phone calls to assess their health needs and help them in any way possible.
Written By: Yumna K. Qureshi, RPh