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Taking Medicines Right - New Statewide Program to Rollout in January

Ernest Boyd, Pharmacist, CAE, Executive Director

As you know, approximately 15 to 20 percent of hospital admissions can be connected with improper drug use. The physician prescribed the right drug, the pharmacist dispensed the proper medication, but the patient takes it incorrectly, resulting in serious consequences. We have known about the problem for years, but little has been done to educate the public. The Ohio Pharmacists Foundation (OPF) is about to launch a great program that should help solve the problem.

OPF applied for a grant through the National Council of State Pharmaceutical Association Executives (NCSPAE) for a project to inform the public about this problem, and what to do about it. The Foundation received a $10,000 grant last April funded by Merck, and over $12,000 has been contributed by other drug manufacturers to help move the project forward. The Foundation convened a subcommittee to create an advertising campaign, develop a brochure for pharmacists to distribute, and produce a slide show that pharmacists can use to present the information to consumer groups in their community.

The ad campaign will be rolled out in January. Its message is simple: Talk to Your Pharmacist. The public needs to know that the most-trusted health professional is also the most knowledgeable about medications. It is critical that the public continue to view pharmacists as an essential part of their personal health care team, and this campaign is designed to make that point clearly.

The campaign will have several distinct aspects. First, television spots are going to be distributed, initially in major cities in Ohio, that are very cleverly designed to catch the consumer's eye. People ask a series of questions about their medications, and the voice-over and logo at the end of these questions says, "Ask your pharmacist." The same audio track will be distributed to all radio stations in Ohio on a CD. You might want to contact your local radio station to place advertisements for your pharmacy near the placement of this public service announcement. We also will be placing large ads in several city newspapers that will convey the same message.

We expect this to only be the kickoff for the campaign. The next step is for you to receive a camera-ready copy of a consumer brochure talking about medication safety. You can make as many copies of the brochure as you like, and can personalize it with the name of your pharmacy or hospital. This brochure will be written in simple terms, and will be aimed at encouraging patients to know their medications and their pharmacist. We also will make the slide show available to OPA members to use at local service clubs, schools, and other consumer groups. The key is to get the public's attention in a major way, and to keep the interest for a long period of time.

In the center of this issue of the Ohio Pharmacist journal, you will find a poster introducing this campaign. Please remove it from the journal and hang it in a prominent place at your area of practice to help stimulate questions from your patients.

OPA and OPF strongly believe that we cannot move the latest and greatest ideas in pharmacy forward if the public does not understand your value. It' s great that we passed legislation to allow you to immunize patients, but if the public does not know about it, we have not been successful. The Ohio Pharmacists Foundation is dedicated to providing public education in addition to the excellent pharmacist continuing education that it now provides.

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