Local News

New Breed Of Pharmacists Expanding Their Role In Healthcare

Posted September 26, 2001 2:41 a.m. EDT

— Most people think all a pharmacist does is fill prescriptions. You may be surprised to learn just how big a role pharmacists can play in your health care.

Robb Malone is a pioneer of the next generation of pharmacy. He is one of the first Clinical Pharmacist Practitioners in North Carolina. Under a new law, certified CPP's work with doctors to provide care for patients.

"They can write prescriptions and also order lab tests that are predetermined by the collaborate agreement that the doctor and pharmacists have agreed to," says Dan Garrett, of Medication Adherance Programs.

Malone works with diabetes patients at UNC. Besides seeing his patients at clinics, he spends hours each day calling them to find out how their medicines are working and if they are having any problems.

"I would only see patients that have issues with diabetes, with uncontrolled diabetes that sort of thing," he says.

Most of the state's CPP's work in medical centers or hospitals where they can work closely with physicians. As the program evolves, it will eventually reach to community pharmacies.

Malone says that his role can be confusing for patients. He says that he makes it clear that he is not taking the place of a physician, but working with them.

Doctors work to make the diagnosis and treat complicated cases. The pharmacist adds a new layer of care.

Pharmacists graduating from pharmacy schools are Doctors of Pharmacy, so they can also become CPP's. Some pharmacists say that they will return to school and do pharmacy residencies to become practitioners.