Role of the Pharmacist in the Management of Rheumatic Diseases


The role of a pharmacist can vary greatly among different practice settings, but ultimately pharmacists play an important role in providing and supporting pharmaceutical care for patients with rheumatic diseases.

What Does the Pharmacist Do?

Manage medications:

  • Develop of medication-use policies
  • Develop of patient care services
  • Drug information
  • Develop and implement clinical care plans and disease state management (e.g., treatment protocols and guidelines)
  • Adverse drug reaction monitoring and reporting

Provide pharmaceutical care:

  • Establish patient relationships
  • Obtain medication history information
  • Dispense medications
  • Prevent, identify, and resolve medication-related problems
  • Educate and counsel patients about their medications
  • Monitor patients and medication effects
  • Contribute to the process to ensure continuity of care for all patients

Drug distribution and control:

  • Manage medication inventory
  • Ensure proper storage conditions for medications
  • Ensure expired medications are not dispensed to patients

Specific responsibilities to patients with rheumatic diseases:

  • Answer questions regarding medications patients may be on that may or may not be related to rheumatology
  • Prepare infusion medications for administration
  • Review any potential drug interactions with patient medications and suggest appropriate dosages as needed
  • Formulate letters to insurance companies to campaign for coverage of off-label usage of medications
  • Educate patients when starting a new medication regarding information including, but not limited to, what to expect, side effects, how to administer, and who to contact if they have questions or side effects
  • Maintain updated knowledge and continuing education on new products and studies to help further patient treatment and support the evidence used during patient education

Where Does a Pharmacist Work?

A pharmacist can work in a variety of settings, including:

Community Pharmacy
In the community pharmacy, such as an independent or chain drug store, a pharmacist is primarily responsible for counseling patients on new medications, properly filling a medication order that comes from a prescriber, and being available for questions that may arise from other health care providers or patients.

Hospital Pharmacy
Pharmacists that work in hospitals can play a role in clarifying orders that are written for a patient, verifying medication orders, preparing and dispensing medications, working with the physicians and nurses providing direct patient care, and may even participate on rounds with physicians to provide suggestions on how to treat a patient.

Ambulatory Care Setting
In an ambulatory care setting, such as an outpatient hospital clinic or private medical office, a pharmacist can have many different responsibilities; this may vary depending on the type of office or clinic, or even the state in which they are practicing. In this setting, a pharmacist may see patients in the office for educational counseling sessions about new medications, talking with the patient about specific drug-related questions, or working with the providers to provide drug information about different medication therapies their patients may be using.

Pharmacists can also work for drug companies as consultants or as researchers, and may also be involved in teaching student pharmacists.

What Kind of Training Does a Pharmacist Have?

All pharmacists must complete at least a six-year pharmacy program, which results in a Doctor of Pharmacy (PharmD) degree, as well as pass a national licensure exam and meet state-specific licensure requirements. Some pharmacists pursue additional post-graduate training, such as one- or two-year residencies or fellowships. The purpose of the additional training is to allow pharmacists to specialize in certain areas of medicine.


American Society of Health-System Pharmacists ASHP guidelines: minimum standard for pharmaceutical services in ambulatory care. Am J Health-Syst Pharm. 1999;56:1744–53.

This information is provided for general education only. Individuals should consult a qualified health care provider for professional medical advice, diagnosis, and treatment of a medical or health condition.

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