GPs not pharmacies best for advice

PHARMACISTS’ quest for a greater role in primary health care has been dealt a blow, after a study revealed most pharmacy staff failed to respond “appropriately” when dealing with patients with chronic coughs.

The University of WA study, published in the Annals of Pharmacotherapy, sent researchers to 155 Perth pharmacies, instructing them to present as patients with symptoms of chronic cough. 

The researchers initially asked only for “something for a cough”, but if questioned, were instructed to explain the cough had been present “a couple of times a week”, and that this had persisted “for a couple of months”. 

They were also instructed to add that they had been using salbutamol twice a day to relieve their asthma symptoms.

Just 38% of pharmacy staff, including pharmacists, advised the patient to see a GP – the study’s sole benchmark for an appropriate response.