McAlester News-Capital, McAlester, OK

Opinion

October 21, 2012

Survey: Consumers trust Internet more than pharmacists

Consumers are more likely to turn to the Internet for prescription drug information than their pharmacists, according to a survey commission by RxAlly, a network of community pharmacies.

When asked who they trusted to guide and inform their healthcare decisions, 22 percent of U.S. adults named the Internet. Only 20 percent named pharmacists.

The top answer -- not surprisingly -- was “my doctor” at 72 percent, followed by "family and friends" at 36 percent.

Under-utilized

However disappointing for the pharmacists, RxAlly points out the survey also revealed that 76 percent of adults agree that pharmacists are equally as qualified to answer questions about prescription medications as doctors. However, only 25 percent have regular conversations about their health with a pharmacist and only 39 percent report that they often rely on a pharmacist for medical advice.

Bruce Roberts, CEO of RxAlly, says consumers should never hesitate to question or consult with a pharmacist. These conversations, he says, can head off potential problems like medication adherence.

"There is a significant discrepancy between patient-reported versus proven adherence rates, which underscores the need to leverage pharmacists' specialized training to better educate patients about their medications and how to more correctly take them," Roberts said. "Ongoing personalized pharmacist care involving regular conversations with a pharmacist is proven to increase adherence rates, improve patient health and reduce costs -- a triple win for patients, pharmacists and the entire U.S. healthcare industry."

Awareness not the issue

It's not that consumers aren't aware that pharmacists can answer their questions. The survey found that 63 percent were aware of pharmacists' specialized training but also shows this expertise is under-utilized. Only 15 percent of U.S. adults have ever discussed a medication maintenance regimen with a pharmacist and only 49 percent have discussed any new medication with a pharmacist.

Also no surprise, says RxAlly, the survey shows a large number of consumers don't always take their medication as prescribed. In fact, several seminal studies have shown that of the approximately 187 million Americans who take one or more prescription drugs, up to one-half do not take their medications as prescribed.

Low rates of medication adherence can lead to disease complications, increased hospitalization, drug resistance and even death.

Story provided by ConsumerAffairs.

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