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STLCOP Attacks Asthma

Published on 01 April 2013

Asthma, a chronic disease affecting 20 million Americans, including nine million children, continues to affect the city of St. Louis. In 2012, the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America ranked St. Louis seventh on their list of the 10 asthma capitals in the U.S.

“Asthma in St. Louis is tied both to environmental triggers and social factors,” explains Tricia Berry, Pharm. D., director of experiential programs at St. Louis College of Pharmacy. “The patient population in the lower socioeconomic classes receives more emergency room care. They are not receiving a crucial primary care component.”

Without primary care, asthma sufferers are only finding short-term treatment for the illness. “Many people with asthma don’t think of it as a chronic illness,” Berry says. “They aren’t taking preventative medicine. They’re just treating asthma when they have attacks.”

With support from a grant awarded by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Berry and Theresa Prosser, Pharm.D., professor of pharmacy practice, began working with a team of medical care providers to develop a study that would help the area population control asthma.

For Berry and Prosser, the role of the pharmacist is integral to managing asthma. “Pharmacists are the most accessible health care providers,” Berry says. “Much of asthma treatment is about taking medications appropriately. The pharmacist is in the perfect position to teach technique and revisit it with the patient.” Their research helped develop the Asthma Friendly Pharmacies (AFP) program. To be recognized as an AFP, a pharmacy must meet several criteria. Currently, eight pharmacies in the St. Louis area meet all criteria. Another 12 are affiliated with the program, although they are not certified AFPs.

“Asthma is a disease state where a patient’s understanding of the disease, their understanding of the medications used to control the disease, and their development of skills to manage their condition allows them to function on a daily basis. If we can improve a patient’s knowledge, understanding, and skills, it will make a difference in their health." 

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