As we close out American Pharmacists Month in October, we are reminded of the enormous contributions that pharmacists across the country make each day to improve the health and well-being of Americans. Their dedication has never been more evident than during the COVID-19 pandemic, when, faced with unprecedented challenges, pharmacists have stepped up to make sure their patients are dispensed the drugs they need along with advice on those medications, and working on the front lines to vaccinate patients as well.
While we are recognizing this work, we should recognize the pharmacists who are working day in and day out at America’s pharmacy benefit managers. PBMs employ many pharmacists and use their training and skills to improve services to patients. Some interact directly with patients, while others focus on clinical roles within the PBM. PBM mail-service pharmacists work every day to provide patients safe and convenient access to medications while ensuring that their pharmacies meet their goals of virtually error-free dispensing.
In addition, PBM pharmacists are working to improve patients’ health by monitoring prescription drug regimens to increase patient adherence and help avoid potentially harmful drug interactions. Many PBMs also offer specialized pharmacists who can counsel and educate patients on their disease states, how their prescribed medications work, and how to manage any side effects a treatment regimen may cause.
This disease-specific advice is intensified at PBM specialty pharmacies, which provide additional individual attention and care to each patient they serve. Pharmacists and other clinicians at specialty pharmacies offer individualized support to patients with complex medical conditions such as blood disorders, diabetes, cancer, Crohn’s disease, HIV/AIDS, infertility, multiple sclerosis, and rheumatoid arthritis, among others.
Behind the scenes at PBMs, pharmacists are active in ensuring that formularies have drugs to treat the full range of diseases and conditions, that PBMs offer medication management programs, including ones designed to stem opioid abuse, and that PBMs are detecting fraud and abuse that hurt patient care.
All of these efforts by PBM pharmacists, and indeed by most pharmacists, are focused as they should be on helping patients break down barriers to access medications and stay as healthy as possible.