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Poor medication adherence – not taking medication as directed – can be bad for your health, even fatal.
Student pharmacists in the Harrison School of Pharmacy at Auburn University have been raising awareness about this critical health issue as part of the Script Your Future Challenge, led by the National Consumers League.
The challenge for the month of October has been for participating pharmacy schools across the country to implement solutions to improve the understanding of medication adherence in their communities.
"We wanted to join in at Harrison School of Pharmacy so we've organized a lot of different things, a lot of community presentations," said Cassie Boyd, a licensed pharmacist and post-doctoral resident at the Auburn University Pharmaceutical Care Center. "We are going to go out and just reinforce this idea of the importance of taking your medications as directed."
According to the partner organizations behind the challenge, nearly three out of four Americans are not taking their medications as directed, costing the country nearly $300 billion a year in hospital costs and causing almost 125,000 deaths annually.
"Adherence just means taking your medication as your doctor prescribed it to you," said Boyd. "The reason that's so important is if you are taking something wrong (incorrectly), that's going to cause all sorts of problems and a lot of people don't realize they're taking medications wrong, so we really want to emphasize the importance of that."
Auburn student pharmacists raised awareness in Lee County by organizing several public presentations and health fairs at various locations, including Loachapoka's annual Syrup Sopping Day, where they provided patient education and health screenings.
The final community presentation is scheduled for Friday, Oct. 28, from 8:30 to 9 a.m. at Auburn United Methodist Church Food Pantry, 302 E. Magnolia Ave., Auburn. It is free and open to the public.
Cathy McCullars, who heard the student pharmacists speak earlier in the month at Providence Baptist Church in the Beauregard community, puts a lot of faith in her pharmacist.
"Whenever I have a question, I go straight to my pharmacist and ask them," said the 62-year-old. "Anybody that's sick at work or whatever, I say ‘please go to the pharmacy, talk to them, they know what medications are safe.' If you have any questions, that's the best place to go."
The challenge may have only lasted a month, but Auburn's student pharmacists are available to visit patients at their residences for continuous health and medication monitoring. A required course called Introductory Pharmacy Practice Experience, or PPE, pairs first-, second- and third-year students with volunteer community members who are taking several prescriptions medications. Pharmacy faculty members serve as student mentors and oversee the patient care process.
"It's a way for the student pharmacist to learn from you and get the experience with actual patients," explained Lindsey Edwards, a fourth-year pharmacy student. "It's also a way for the patients to have access to healthcare professionals that could possibly help them achieve better health outcomes. If you have any questions relating to your medications, the student pharmacists are there to help you."
McCullars liked the idea of utilizing the students' expertise, especially for the elderly members of her church and community.
"It's definitely beneficial for me to meet people in the community to answer questions and concerns they have," added Edwards. "It's also beneficial for people in the community, especially patients who are on a lot of medications, to be informed and know the role of the pharmacist."
Anyone interested in participating in PPE can contact Kathy Kyle at (334) 844-8345 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Patients must live within 30 miles of campus.
Last Updated: Oct. 28, 2011