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Executive Summary

NACDS, Searle and USP are backing a two-day intensive training program to improve chain store pharmacists' patient counseling skills. The training program is being offered by Auburn University's School of Pharmacy. The program was announced at an Aug. 29 session of the National Association of Chain Drug Stores' Pharmaceutical Conference by Auburn's Bruce Berger, PharmD, who is heading the program. Dubbed PHOCUST -- Pharmacists' Opportunities in Compliance Using Skills Training -- the program will teach chain store representatives to train company pharmacists. Participants will be supplied with training videotapes and other materials. Searle is providing "significant" financial support to underwrite development of the program and provision of program materials. Berger described three distinctive features of PHOCUST: its 16-hour length provides more in-depth training than other programs; it "trains the trainers," thereby reaching a wider audience; and it has an interactive format. For example, program participants will use role-playing and other techniques to improve their patient interaction skills. The program will be geared to the chain store setting, for example, taking into account the time constraints of large-volume stores. Improving patient compliance with drug regimens is important from both a quality of care and business perspective for pharmacists, Berger maintained. He said that the greatest predictor of compliance is whether the patient sees his or her health care provider as an "advocate." The Auburn professor pointed to statistics that as many as one-third of scripts are not filled, and that 30% to 50% of high-blood pressure patients do not have their condition under control, due in large part to failure to take their medication as directed. Declaring that pharmacists have a professional responsibility to help address noncompliance, Berger said that if their only role is to dispense medications and information, they will be replaced by automated technology. The first PHOCUST session will be held Oct. 9-10 for members of the NACDS Pharmacy Affairs Committee. Future sessions will be held around the country, with up to about 40 participants per session.



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