Flu Vaccines Myths Vs Facts and Your Pharmacist

The flu is a serious disease that could be deadly in some cases if the symptoms are not effectively managed. No two flu seasons are the same. Every year the is a mutation in the flu virus thus, it is pertinent for us to get a flu shot yearly during the flu season to avoid getting the flu.

In the United States the flu season starts from early October-May. Anyone can be infected by the flu, not only the immunocompromised. Estimate from the CDC website states, “flu-related hospitalizations since 2010 ranged from 140,000 to 710,000, while flu-related deaths are estimated to have ranged from 12,000 to 56,000”. This number will increase if individuals are not taking Flu vaccines during the flu seasons.

How can you protect yourself from getting the flu?

The only way to protect yourself against the flu is to get the flu vaccine every year as soon as they become available during the flu season  

You can go to your local pharmacy to get a flu shot, no need scheduling an appointment with your physician.

Common and not serious side effects with taking a flu vaccine are :

  •       Nausea
  •       Aches
  •       Redness, swelling and soreness at site of injection.

Serious and less common side effects are:

  •        Swelling around eyes
  •       Difficulty breathing
  •       Hives
  •       Dizziness
  •       High fever

One of the biggest draw backs that people often are mistaken on is that they are subjected to believe that they could get the flu from the flu vaccine. This is a myth and one of the biggest myths that needs to be corrected. The facts state that it is impossible to get the flu from a flu vaccine. This is in part due to the fact that the vaccine contains a strain of the virus that is inactivated which means it is biologically incapable of producing the flu within the body.

Another myth, people often feel as if they do not need a flu vaccine every year because the one they got last year should be sufficient and do the job. The truth behind the matter is that your body’s immunity to the virus becomes weaker each year and a yearly injection of the vaccine keeps your immune system up to date in producing antibodies to fight the illness. Then in addition there is new strains that come out every year and these strains are analyzed and the vaccines vary from year to year. So, each vaccine is different each year and is effective against different strains which you may get.

Some people often feel that the flu vaccine is not useful for them because it was intended for the very young and the elderly generations. This once again is a myth. The Center for Disease Control (CDC) states that anyone from 6 months of age and on can receive a flu shot. The young and the old may be at an increased risk for catching the general flu but the shot is designed for everyone who wants to avoid the risk of catching it during the general season.

As an individual, you may be concerned that mercury is being used as a preservative within the flu shot vaccines. This is in part true and in part myth. The myth is that mercury is used in all flu shot vaccines. Mercury is only used in multi-dose vials. When an individual goes to a pharmacy or doctor’s office they use the single dose vials which are intended for one time use and do not have mercury in them to preserve it because it will not be stored for a long time.

If you have any questions at all one may seek out their local pharmacist and ask any given questions for clarifications and hopefully become vaccinated. Your pharmacist is one of the most convenient people you have access to that can make a difference in your life. Speak to them and become educated, medicated, and vaccinated. 

Resources

http://www.fffenterprises.com/assets/downloads/FFF_FluFactsMythsFacts.pdf

https://www.cdc.gov/flu/protect/keyfacts.htm

https://www.cdc.gov/flu/about/disease/2015-16.htm

 

Pharmacists and Their Role in Controlling the Opioid Epidemic

As a member of the healthcare team the pharmacist has an equally important job in deterring this opioid epidemic that is currently wreaking havoc across our country. Many physicians prescribe prescriptions painkillers for patients and they come to the pharmacy; but we are lacking a systematic control method to prevent abuse. For example, in our country it is estimated that 21-29% of people who are prescribed prescription opioids misuse them according to the National Institute of Drug Abuse. New federal policies and procedures are making the epidemic a well-known issue and the regulations they are presenting are attempting to reverse years of damage that has already been done.  

One pharmacy has chosen to take a stand which is causing increased awareness due to the limitations it is taking. CVS reported early last week that they will begin to limit opioid prescriptions to a 7-day timeframe with certain restrictions; they are incorporating all of this into a new policy. The policy itself will not take affect till February of 2018 but this is a major topic in the control of opioids. “With a presence in nearly 10,000 communities across the country, we see firsthand the impact of the alarming and rapidly growing epidemic of opioid addiction and misuse,” said Larry J. Merlo, president and CEO of CVS Health.

In addition to the new policy, they will also be increasing the number of drug disposal units in its Medication Disposal for Safer Communities Program. This will help patients who are trying to adhere to the new set guidelines and dispose of old or extra medications they may have on hand. In this effort, CVS is working to try and adhere thoroughly to the CDC opioid prescribing guidelines.  

      

Most Opioid abusers use opioid for illicit reasons. As a pharmacist or a student pharmacist working in the pharmacy there are some little things you can do to help prevent this pandemic. By identifying some of the Red Flags of opioid abuse;

  • If a patient comes in and request for a particular brand or specific color of opioid. This should give you a clue that this patient is selling his or her medication.
  • If they use slang terms (street name of the drug)
  • Insist on paying with cash instead of allowing his or her insurance to cover the cost of the drug.
  • If you have new patients form the same prescriber coming to your pharmacy to fill only opioid.
  • Lack of eye contact especially when it is a new patient filling at your pharmacy
  • If the patient is nervous, be sure to know if they are hiding something  
  • Insisting on getting a refill before the actual refill date.
  • Tampering with the prescription.

In conclusion further steps need to be taken in the battle against opioids and this is one major step in the right direction. Pharmacist should attempt to take further action because we are the final check in the process before the patient receives the prescription medication.

Resources:

http://www.deadiversion.usdoj.gov/mtgs/pharm_awareness/conf_2013/march_2013/carter.pdf

https://www.cms.gov/Medicare-Medicaid-Coordination/Fraud-Prevention/MedicaidIntegrityProgram/downloads/drugdiversion.pdf

http://vtdigger.org/2014/02/11/special-report-state-spends-millions-addiction-fighting-drug-diverted-street-sale/

https://www.drugabuse.gov/drugs-abuse/opioids/opioid-crisis

http://www.cnn.com/2017/09/22/health/cvs-prescription-restrictions-opioids-bn/index.html

 

 

The Historical Sketch and Philanthropic Efforts of Phi Delta Chi

Contributed by: Domonique Dobson, Worthy Master of Arms, Class of 2018 and Michael Okegubwu, Phi Delta Chi Brother, Class of 2019

Phi Chi, the first professional fraternity of pharmacy, was founded on November 2, 1883 at the University of Michigan College of Pharmacy. Eleven men founded the fraternity along with the group’s advisor, Dean of Pharmacy Albert B. Prescott. According to the National Office’s records, “Both students and faculty recognized that such an organization would bring students of pharmacy together for the discussion of scientific questions pertaining to pharmacy and its sister sciences”. The pharmacy organization has since grown into the name Phi Delta Chi and has created 98 chapters nationwide. The chapters work with the Executive Council and Regional Officers each year to plan national meetings. The two annual meetings include Grand Council and the Leader-Development Seminar. Grand Council meets every other year on the odd year to conduct business. The Leader-Development Seminar meets every other year on the even year to help brothers develop life-long leadership skills. Although the brothers show great pride for the fraternity by planning and participating in meetings and events, they spend even more time and energy supporting their philanthropy, St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital.

Plaque and thank-you note from St. Jude's Children Research Hospital thanking Phi Delta Chi for their support.

Plaque and thank-you note from St. Jude’s Children Research Hospital thanking Phi Delta Chi for their support.

The Brothers of Phi Delta Chi began raising funds for St. Jude in 1995. In August 2007, the Fraternity pledged to raise $200,000 over 4 years. However, Phi Delta Chi surpassed this goal within 2 years with a letter-writing campaign called The Prescription for Hope. St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital named their outpatient pharmacy to thank Phi Delta Chi for the support. The Executive Council and Regional Officers accepted brothers’ interest at that year’s annual Grand Council meeting and pledged a new goal of $1 million over 10 years. Phi Delta Chi successfully reached their goal this fall! St. Jude agreed to name an adjoining patient/parent room in honor of the Fraternity’s new donation. Adjoining parent rooms allow parents and patients to have privacy and comfort while staying at the hospital.

The University of Charleston School of Pharmacy’s Phi Delta Chi chapter, Gamma Chi, hosted a Yankee Candle fundraiser for St. Jude in October. The Worthy Keeper of Finance (treasurer) Jasiris Bocchecaimp (Class of 2019) worked diligently to organize and advertise the sale. The Gamma Chi chapter was able to raise $544.20 to further support our philanthropy. This total was only 40 percent of the total revenue from Yankee Candle purchases during the fundraiser.

Phi Delta Chi’s continued efforts to help local communities, like Charleston, as well as the nation, aids in spreading the word about pharmacy initiatives like Script Your Future, American Pharmacists’ Month, and general advocacy for the profession. Brothers create awareness of pharmacy by continually expanding our efforts to help individuals and families in need through St Jude Children’s Research Hospital.

Phi Delta Chi members and advisors outside of UCSOP

Phi Delta Chi members and advisors outside of UCSOP

The newest members of the Phi Delta Chi Organization

The newest members of the Phi Delta Chi Organization

Reference: http://www.phideltachi.org/?page=HistoryofPDC

UCSOP Script Your Future & Medication Safety Radio Program Available for Download

In February and early-March the University of Charleston School of Pharmacy hosted a six-part Radio Blog Talk Series on Medication Safety and Adherence in partnership with Forest of the Rain Productions.

Script Your FutureThe programs were held every Wednesday from 8:30pm-9:30pm EST, February 1-March 8, 2017 and featured our students, faculty, staff and community partners. Information about medication adherence was shared in addition to discussion regarding our community efforts to promote medication safety education and training. 

Topics of discussion included:

  • February 1-Introduction to the Script Your Future Medication Adherence Challenge
  • February 8-Generation Rx: Prescription Safety Education in Partnership with Kanawha County Schools and the University of Charleston School of Pharmacy
  • February 15-Proper Medication Disposal
  • February 22-The Nationwide Drug Epidemic and the Role of Medication Adherence
  • March 1-Medication Adherence and Safety: Focus on DEA 360 Strategy
  • March 8-Disease Management and Medication Adherence

All shows were recorded for rebroadcast and can be access at: http://www.blogtalkradio.com/ptlsafemedicationuse

Script Your Future – Understanding OTC Medications

Script Your Future

Non-prescription (a.k.a. over-the-counter or OTC) medicines have become increasingly popular among Americans in recent years. In the past, OTC medications have been viewed as home remedies to treat aches, pains, and itching. What many people do not consider, however, is their ability to treat and even cure a variety of conditions. Some OTC products can prevent diseases like tooth decay, and even cure diseases like athlete’s foot. Along with a doctor and/or pharmacist’s guidance, some OTC products can be used to manage recurring conditions like yeast infections, migraines, and arthritis pain. It is important to fully discuss your plans on using OTC products with your doctor before trying a product on your own!

When a product is available to be purchased without doctor’s prescription, there are certain precautions you must take before selecting a product to fit your needs. As a whole, people are living longer, working longer, and becoming more active in their own healthcare, which means more people are becoming informed about the best self-care practices, including OTC use. The best way to ensure that you are purchasing a safe and effective product, is to read and understand the information on the OTC product label. Common terms found on OTC labels are defined below:

  • Active Ingredient(s) – the substance in the product which provides its therapeutic action
  • Inactive Ingredient(s) – substances like flavorings, binders, and colorings
  • Warnings – possible side effects; when not to use the product;  when to stop taking it; when to see a doctor
  • Purpose – the general category of the product (i.e. antacid, antihistamine, etc.)
  • Uses – the symptoms or disease the product is intended to treat/prevent
  • Directions – how to use the medication; what dose to take; how frequently to take it; and duration of treatment course

When it comes to medications, more does not always mean better. You should never misuse OTC medications by taking them longer or in higher doses than the label recommends. If you have any questions regarding how to use a product or how to read the label, do not hesitate to ask your pharmacist for help. If the symptoms you are trying to treat persist despite treatment, that is a clear signal to go see your doctor right away!

References: http://www.fda.gov/downloads/Drugs/ResourcesForYou/Consumers/BuyingUsingMedicineSafely/UnderstandingOver-the-CounterMedicines/Choosingtherightover-the-countermedicineOTCs/UCM150312.pdf

NCPA and AAPS Host Script Your Future Event at Fruth Pharmacy!

Student pharmacists at UCSOP are working diligently towards reaching their goal of 10,000 pledges for the 2017 Script Your Future Challenge. However, reaching this goal cannot be done without collaboration and support from fellow students and community organizations. This is why NCPA and AAPS have teamed up to host a Script Your Future event at four Fruth Pharmacy locations in West Virginia! Details about this event can be found below.
Script Your Future   Fruth Pharmacy

Who: NCPA, AAPS, UCSOP Students, Fruth Pharmacy staff and customers

What: Script Your Future/Medication Disposal/Medication Synchronization Outreach

Where: Fruth @ Oakwood Road, Lee Street, Scott Depot, and Nitro

When: February 20-25, 2017

Details: Students from UCSOP will be volunteering at the Fruth stores in Scott Depot, Nitro, Oakwood Road, and Lee Street to educate patients about medication adherence, medication disposal, and medication synchronization.  This event will focus on getting patients to take the Script Your Future Pledge. Students will also be handing out goodie bags filled with medication wallet cards cards, pill organizers, and flyers for education on how to properly dispose or medications. Students will also have their iPads on-site so customers can conveniently take the pledge in real-time!

Come out and support our students while learning more about medication adherence and safety! If you’d like to learn more about Script Your Future visit http://www.scriptyourfuture.com or take the pledge at http://www.ucwv.edu/pharmacy!

Script Your Future Goes Red at Macy’s

Script Your FutureOn February 3rd, UCSOP students and faculty members held a community outreach event by the local Macy’s store in the Charleston Town Center Mall. This event served as an opportunity for our students and faculty to educate the public about medication adherence and cardiovascular health while promoting Script Your Future and the Go Red For Women Campaign.

SNPhA and ACCP spear-headed this event along with numerous other student volunteers to reach out to the Charleston community. Posters about cardiovascular health, risk factors for heart disease, knowing the signs of a stroke, and smoking cessation were all made available to the public. Our students were available to provide education, resources, and answer questions about these materials as well. Students also provided free blood pressure screenings and raffles to those who stopped by the booths! Overall, this event was a huge success and a fun way for our students to engage our local community in taking the right steps to heart-healthy living.

UCSOP students and faculty at the Charleston Town Center Mall Macy's hosting a Script Your Future event

UCSOP students and faculty at the Charleston Town Center Mall Macy’s hosting a Script Your Future event

Dr. Kristy Lucas, Ms. Jane Condee, and Ms. Barbara Smith

 

 

Script Your Future – Tips on Talking With Your Pharmacist About Using Medications Safely

Script Your FuturePharmacists are a valuable resource for patients when they have questions about their medications. Being the drug experts means that pharmacists are well-educated in both prescription and non-prescription medications. If you or someone you know have any questions about your medications and how to take them safely, contact your local pharmacist!

When speaking with your pharmacist regarding your medications, it is very important to give him/her any information about your health and current medications. Things to inform your pharmacist about include: any food or drug allergies, if you have any restrictions that could influence your ability to take medications (i.e. difficulty swallowing), a list of all your current medications and health conditions, and if you are pregnant or may become pregnant, etc.

When asking your pharmacist, or any other healthcare professional for that matter, a question regarding your care it can be helpful to write down a list of questions you want to ask them. Examples of questions to ask your pharmacist:

  1. What are the brand and generic names?
  2. What is this for, and how is it going to help me?
  3. How and when should I use it? How much do I use?
  4. How long should I use it? Can I stop using the medicine or use less if I feel better?
  5. What should I do if I miss a dose or use too much?
  6. When will the medicine start working? How should I expect to feel?

When talking with your pharmacist about your medications, be sure you write down any important information they tell you, take home and read any pamphlets of information provided to you, and make sure you have the pharmacy’s phone number in case you need to call back for further questions! Once you get home, there are additional steps you can take to ensure you are taking your medications safely and properly. Tips for safe medication use at-home include: double checking the label on the bottle to make sure you are taking the correct medication, using proper measuring devices (syringes, medication spoons, etc.) to get the correct dose, and following proper storage directions for the medication (refrigeration, away from light, etc.).

For more helpful tips on how to talk to your pharmacist and take your medications safely, visit www.fda.gov/usemedicinesafely

Script Your Future – The Importance of Cholesterol Medications

Script Your FutureCholesterol is a type of fat that is naturally made in our bodies and can be found in various foods. The problem with cholesterol arises when we have too much of it in our blood vessels, causing a plaque to form. This plaque can impede blood flow to the heart leading to a heart attack or stroke. When a person has high cholesterol, whether its elevated LDL, elevated triglycerides, or low HDL, they are often completely unaware of it. High cholesterol often presents without any symptoms, and can be left unnoticed for many years. Fortunately, a simple blood test can determine what your cholesterol level is.

If your doctor tells you that you have high cholesterol, there are a few things you can do to manage this condition. Lifestyle modifications like increasing exercise to at least 30 minutes/day and eating a heart-healthy diet are great ways to get your cholesterol back at goal (total cholesterol <200). If this does not work, however, there are medications you can take to lower your cholesterol. The most popular class of cholesterol medications are referred to as “statins” (i.e. pravastatin, atorvastatin, rosuvastatin, simvastatin, etc.). These medications have proven to be effective in managing cholesterol levels and are used by many patients. Other common cholesterol-lowering drugs include bile acid sequestrants, niacin, fibrates, and omega-3-fatty acids. Although these medication classes work in slightly different ways, they all lower blood cholesterol to some degree.

The problem with these medications is that many people do not “feel” like they are making a difference in their health. This can cause patients to stop taking their cholesterol medications as they are prescribed, or stop taking them all together. It is important for all patients to be educated about how important cholesterol medications are to their health. Even though you may not physically feel any different from taking cholesterol medicine, it could very well be saving your life by preventing plaques from building up in your vessels and causing a heart attack. It is so important to take these medications as directed by your physician, especially for patients with other chronic health conditions like diabetes, high blood pressure, etc. So take the pledge to take your cholesterol medicine today at http://www.ucwv.edu/pharmacy!

For more information about cholesterol medications visit http://www.fda.gov/downloads/ForConsumers/ByAudience/ForWomen/FreePublications/UCM179918.pdf

Provider Status and Pharmacists: What’s the Connection?

Healthcare delivery in the United States and around the world faces various challenges including increased cost, improving quality, and reduced access. More people have the benefit to receive care and live healthy lives, however, there is a shortage in the number of healthcare professionals available to provide their care. By 2025 there is a projected fall in the availability in the number of physicians in the United States based on the huge gap in the supply and demand in this field. Costs are rising because the few available physicians must work more to accommodate all patients. This creates a unique opportunity for pharmacists to provide care to patients, especially if they receive official national recognition as healthcare providers and given the right to expand the services allowed under their scope of practice.

Per the Department of Health and Human Services, it is projected that there will be about 368,000 active pharmacists in the United States by 2030. By then, the general population will increase in number as well, making the need for healthcare professionals rise even further. Pharmacists are among the most trusted healthcare professionals due to their availability and personal relationships with their patients. However, in the Social Security Act, pharmacists are not formally recognized as healthcare providers. Even though they work in a wide-reaching field ranging from clinical specialties, to community/retail pharmacies, geriatrics, ambulatory care, and industry and research, they have not been given the privilege to be fully accepted as providers, and thus, cannot bill Medicare Part B for their services. This is the reason why all pharmacists must support and advocate for the provider status movement which was initiated in March March 2014.

Another reason why pharmacists should be recognized as providers is their status as health care professionals with extensive, thorough, and specific knowledge about drugs. Pharmacists have increased availability to patients, especially those in rural/underserved areas, and often work extended hours. A patient can walk into a community pharmacy at any time of the day to ask questions regarding any health concerns, medications being taken, or anything pertaining to their health and have a trained professional there to assist them. This means that, at some levels, pharmacists spend more time with their patients than physicians. Pharmacists often see the same patients come to the store everyday just to have conversations, which allows them to become more familiar with the patients and develop personal relationships with them. These relationships create trust between both sides and trust happens to be to the number one value that health care professionals need for their patients to believe that they are receiving the best care possible. Physicians have limited time to spend with their patients, and their encounters are very limited, which is why developing personal relationships and higher levels of trust with their patients is more difficult than that of pharmacists.

It’s easy to see how pharmacists play an important role in providing efficient and high-quality patient care. Pharmacists have vast knowledge regarding drugs, and are valuable for drug therapy management. With the introduction of Point Of Care Testing (POCT), most pharmacists have the ability to provide primary basic care to patients even when visiting local community pharmacies. Therefore, it is necessary for pharmacists to be formally recognized as providers so they can reach their full potential as professionals and help more patients receive the adequate health care they deserve.

Contributed by Koffi Amegadje, NCPA Community Outreach Chair, Class of 2020