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Pharmacists are society's experts on drugs. They have been at the interface between prescribers and patients for centuries: in the community particularly they have long provided a direct service to the public. For most of this time they have made medicines and advised on their use, but the growth of the pharmaceutical companies - under increasingly stringent legislation - has removed much of the need for local manufacturing and quality control. Pharmacists' traditional roles of compounding medicines and dispensing prescriptions have been replaced with activities requiring the full range of their training and skills, ranging from avoiding drug interactions and detecting adverse reactions to giving advice and monitoring drug treatment. Pharmacists now have many varied new roles, sometimes called pharmaceutical care, to respond to the changing needs of the public, to changes in health care objectives, and to changes in health service delivery.
It is their responsibility to make sure that the plan they design provides individual patients with appropriate drugs and drug therapies, conveniently and cost effectively. It is a complex job, involving the expert skills of clinically trained pharmacists at every step in the patient-care process. As with pharmacists who practice in other settings, pharmacists in managed care environments are committed to ensuring that medications are available and used appropriately in order to improve patient’s health.