The task of pharmacists may be traced back early in history to be of common ancestry with a physician in general practice as apothecaries. As recalled by Bond (2009), apothecaries used to dispense medicines prescribed by doctors, and / or recommend medications for those members of the population who can not afford to consult a physician. In the modern era, pharmacists are health care professionals whose specialty includes the actions, use and chemistry of drugs, as well as their formulation into medicines, and the methods by which these are utilised in the management of illnesses.
The main function of a pharmacist is, therefore, to apply such expertise to enhance the efficacy of patient care. Another role of a pharmacist is to guide patients in deriving the greatest benefit from their prescribed medication and in offering advice to the general public regarding the management of the so-called self-limiting and minor conditions (Bond, 2009). Pharmacists also help consumers in the selection of effective medications from a range of over-the-counter drugs or as members of a team of health care professionals. Traditionally, pharmacists practice their profession in association with a health care facility or either as independent or salaried pharmacist in a community drugstore.
Over, the years, however, the primarily distributive function of the pharmacist from a trade context has evolved from traditional to an expanding advisory or consultative role in the clinical milieu (Bond, 2009; Navarro, 2009; Buerki & Vottero, 2002). From an overview of food and nutritional elements in the market provided by Ransley (2001), UK shells out hundred millions GBP annually on over-the-counter (OTC) vitamins, minerals and dietary supplements. Half of such expenditure is made on cod liver oil (and other fish oils) and multivitamins.
The fact that the community interacts more frequently with the pharmacist than with other elements of the primary care team, pharmacists in the neighbourhood drug store are ideally in a strategically located position to offer sound advice on potential nutrient – drug interaction and OTC dietery supplements (Joynson, 2001). It is in this regard that pharmacists are “required to be a competent and knowledgeable source of reliable information. [as well as] any relevant supportive or detrimental evidence from the scientific literature” (Joynson, 2001, p. The pharmacist needs to be aware of
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