Washington Post Examines Increased Popularity of Independent Pharmacy Consultants
The Washington Post on Tuesday examined the increased popularity of independent pharmacy consultants -- pharmacists who advise patients on prescription drug treatments for a fee.
As retail pharmacists face increased competition from mail-order and online pharmacies, they have to spend more time on administrative tasks and cannot advise patients. Pharmacy consultants maintain that they address a "public health need that time-pressed doctors often can't meet," the Post reports.
According to the American Society of Consultant Pharmacists, as many as 500 pharmacy consultants operate nationwide, but only a small percentage earn most of their incomes from the practice. Many pharmacy consultants previously worked at nursing homes or assisted-living facilities, where they reviewed patient medication information for potential interactions or complications.
A "major obstacle" faced by some pharmacy consultants is "convincing" patients to pay a fee for their services because some "think of a pharmacist as someone who dispenses medications, not medical advice," according to the Post. In addition, some patients and physicians oppose pharmacy consultants.
Michael Fleming, president of the American Academy of Family Physicians, said, "This is ... an expensive Band-Aid approach to a much larger problem that needs to be fixed" (Agnvall, Washington Post, 12/14).