Strong pharmacist holds a giant bottle of pills over his head

The Role of Community Pharmacist in Your CF Journey

Numerous healthcare professionals are involved in CF care. Most often, people don’t think of their pharmacist as part of their CF team. There are many reasons for this; one reason is that most pharmacists are not specialized and do not have a comprehensive CF background.

Another reason is that most pharmacists do not practice within the clinic or hospital setting, but rather practice in the community as retail pharmacists.

CF specialized pharmacists

Some people may be under the care of a pharmacist who works within their CF clinic. This pharmacist is typically responsible for writing prescriptions for doctors to sign, checking for drug interactions, and counseling on therapy. These pharmacists are knowledgeable on CF-specific medications, such as CFTR modulators.  For example, a pharmacist working at a CF clinic may:

  • Write a prescription for Trikafta, under the doctor’s orders
  • Counsel you on the new medication, including what side effects you may expect
  • Assist with coordinating financial queries, such as submitting special authorization requests for coverage
  • Follow-up with you to ensure the drug is safe and tolerated well

Community pharmacists

Community pharmacists on the other hand, do not necessarily have the education or background on CFTR modulators. CFTR modulators are often dispensed at specialty pharmacies, so retail pharmacists are not exposed to these prescriptions.

Despite not being specialized in CF, community pharmacists have many roles within a patient’s CF journey. For example, community pharmacists have a role in the following:

Antibiotic therapy

Retail pharmacists can ensure the accuracy and safety of your prescribed antibiotic. Occasionally, patients are prescribed antibiotics that they may have an allergy to, or an incorrect dosing is specified. Community pharmacists can pick up on these errors and either adapt the prescription or connect with the doctor to have it changed.

They can also counsel you on how the antibiotic should be taken. For children, pharmacists can compound a mixture formulation of the antibiotic and even add in different flavorings to ensure palatability.

Vitamins

A lot of the vitamins used for CF are dispensed at the pharmacy. This includes iron and vitamin A, D, E, and K products.

Bronchodilators

Pharmacists can demonstrate how to use inhalers, such as ipratropium MDI.

Anti-inflammatories

Medications such as prednisone and montelukast are also dispensed at the pharmacy. If a prednisone taper is required, some pharmacies create a schedule to clearly lay out how many tablets should be taken daily and for how long.

Emergency refills

Occasionally, patients run out of medications without having time to see their doctor for refills. For chronic medications, or medications that should be taken continuously, pharmacists can provide an emergency supply or renewal of therapy. When accidents happen, pharmacists can help. For example, a spill of an antibiotic suspension can be amended by re-dispensing you another bottle of the product.

Vaccinations

Most pharmacies offer vaccinations such as influenza and pneumonia.

Community pharmacists are often overlooked healthcare professionals; however, they have a role in ensuring the safety and continuity of your CF-related prescriptions.

How has your community pharmacist been involved in your care? Share your experiences below!

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This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The Cystic-Fibrosis.com team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.

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