Ontarians encouraged to consult medication experts during Pharmacist Awareness Week

TORONTO, March 3, 2011 /Canada NewsWire/ - The Ontario Pharmacists' Association is encouraging Ontarians to speak with their pharmacist during Pharmacist Awareness Week, March 6-12 - before beginning their spring vacations.

"Pharmacists are highly trained and accessible health professionals, and the experts in medication," said Janet McCutchon, Chair of the Ontario Pharmacists' Association. "Whether patients are planning to travel or staying close to home, their pharmacist can provide valuable advice and information that can help keep them and their families healthy."

When patients use one pharmacy, the team there can develop a personalized medication record to help identify potential drug interactions and other issues. This is especially important when a patient has been prescribed multiple medications by several different prescribers.

Pharmacists work closely with other health professionals to advise on potential side effects, interactions and any necessary adjustments to medications. They also help patients make sense of new health information, and help them adhere to treatment plans. They can show patients how to monitor blood pressure, use an inhaler, and test blood sugar levels. They provide advice on how to quit smoking. They also provide many other services, ranging from screening for cholesterol and diabetes management, to hosting flu shot clinics.

For patients preparing for vacations, their pharmacist can help adjust dosing schedules to avoid missing doses when travelling across time zones. The pharmacist can also provide advice on how to avoid travel sickness, how to prevent traveller's diarrhea, and which regions of the world require additional vaccinations. The pharmacist can review a patient's medications, ensuring none has expired, and provide a complete medication list. Patients are advised to carry their medications with them rather than in checked luggage, whenever possible.

"Spring is also a good time to clean out the medicine cabinet, and return expired medications to pharmacies for proper disposal," McCutchon said.

About the Ontario Pharmacists' Association

The Ontario Pharmacists' Association is the professional association that represents the views and interests of more than 12,000 pharmacists and pharmacists-in-training across the province. The Association works to inspire excellence in the profession and practice of pharmacy, and to promote wellness for patients.