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Brazeau_Gayle

I am writing to express my extreme displeasure with the editorial cartoon by Margulies that appeared in the Sunday, July 25, 2021, edition of The Herald-Dispatch. As dean of the Marshall University School of Pharmacy, I would like to address the gross inaccuracies depicted in this editorial. On behalf of the many practicing pharmacists in your readership, as well as the faculty, staff, and students of the Marshall University School of Pharmacy, I would like to assure your readers that pharmacists, alongside other health care providers, have been at the forefront of the battle against prescription medication abuse, particularly as it relates to opioid addiction. Pharmacists as well as pharmacy students have been active in educating the public of all ages about the dangers of medication misuse. Our faculty regularly work with the Cabell-Huntington Health Department to provide training for first responders about how to deliver life-saving Narcan. Students participate in drug takeback events throughout their time at Marshall. Moreover, we are in the process of developing an interdisciplinary program in addiction sciences.

The cartoon is especially damaging in that in many cases pharmacists are the most accessible people in a patient’s health care team, particularly in rural communities where sufficient medical treatment can be a challenge. The implication in this cartoon, that pharmacists are a part of the opioid problem, could lead patients to develop a lack of trust in their local pharmacist. This would inevitably lead to reduced health outcomes as patients become reluctant to ask for counseling or take their pharmacist’s advice on over-the-counter medications. More significantly, a patient might also decide not to take the pharmacist’s recommendations regarding drug safety, including medication adherence, side effects, and/or potential interactions, leading to a patient either taking their medication incorrectly or not taking it at all. Quite frankly, not only does The Herald-Dispatch owe an apology to the pharmacy community, it also should apologize to their readership for the damage it may have done to their healthcare.

Pharmacy schools across the nation have experienced significant declines in enrollment due in large part to misconceptions and in this case, ignorance of the important role pharmacists play as medication experts. Talented students who would have previously considered pharmacy as a career are instead choosing other occupations. This cartoon has done a great disservice to all the pharmacists, both current and future, who are passionately serving in our communities to provide the very best care to their patients.

Gayle A. Brazeau, Ph.D., is dean of the Marshall University School of Pharmacy.

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