This Sunday marks the first day of October and the start of American Pharmacists Month, a celebration in support of pharmacists around the country. While the American Pharmacists Association (APhA) has celebrated the accomplishments of pharmacists for decades, the Association launched American Pharmacists Month in 2004. Since then, APhA has used October to further raise awareness among the public, patients, policy makers, and other stakeholders about the broad roles pharmacists play in health care today.
During American Pharmacists Month, APhA promotes awareness of the many services pharmacists offer beyond the safe distribution of medications. Examples of these services include seasonal and lifespan immunizations; medication reviews to assess safety, effectiveness, interactions and adherence; care management and counseling for disease states such as diabetes, high blood pressure, and high cholesterol; and smoking cessation counseling.
This summer’s historic natural disasters have also focused attention on the role pharmacists play in public health planning and emergency preparedness. Whether it was distributing vital medications, setting up mobile pharmacies, or providing patient care, pharmacists in the affected and surrounding areas answered the call to help those in need.
The month-long observance recognizes the impact pharmacists have on improving medication use, advancing patient care, and improving patient access and public health across all geographies and throughout all practice settings. It is a way to inspire and galvanize the pharmacy profession, while also encouraging the community to “Know Your Pharmacist—Know Your Medicine,” the slogan for American Pharmacists Month. The message encourages patients to interact with their pharmacist and learn more about their medications and other services that pharmacists can provide.
For American Pharmacists Month 2017, APhA will participate in various activities, including a Capitol Hill Health Fair on October 11 where members of Congress, staff, and the general public can get their influenza shots and health screenings, including bone density, glucose, cholesterol, blood pressure, and body composition; and media and social media campaigns.
To help pharmacists, pharmacy technicians, and student pharmacists celebrate the month, APhA has devoted part of its website to help with activity planning, including tips on outreach and messaging to spread the word, ideas to inspire activities and events, and promotional items featuring the theme and logo.
Visit APhA’s website for ways to celebrate throughout October. Please use #APhM2017 for your social media postings and e-mail any coverage, clips, and event photos to APhA to email@example.com.
Please visit the CDC’s website for all of their guidelines on men’s health: https://www.cdc.gov/men/index.htm
March is Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month
Among cancers that affect both men and women, colorectal cancer (cancer of the colon or rectum) is the second leading cause of cancer deaths in the United States. Every year, about 140,000 Americans are diagnosed with colorectal cancer, and more than 50,000 people die from it. But this disease is highly preventable, by getting screened beginning at age 50.
Screening tests help prevent colorectal cancer by finding precancerous polyps (abnormal growths) so they can be removed. Screening also finds this cancer early, when treatment can be most effective.
What You Can Do
- If you’re aged 50 to 75, get screened for colorectal cancer regularly. If you’re between 76 and 85, ask your doctor if you should be screened.
- Be physically active.
- Maintain a healthy weight.
- Don’t drink too much alcohol.
- Don’t smoke.
- Risk increases with age. More than 90% of colorectal cancers occur in people aged 50 and older.
- Precancerous polyps and colorectal cancer don’t always cause symptoms, especially at first. You could have polyps or colorectal cancer and not know it. That is why having a screening test is so important. If you have symptoms, they may include—
- Blood in or on the stool (bowel movement).
- Stomach pain, aches, or cramps that do not go away.
- Losing weight and you don’t know why.
These symptoms may be caused by something other than cancer. If you have any of them, see your doctor.
- Some people are at a higher risk than others for developing colorectal cancer. If you think you may be at high risk, talk to your doctor about when and how often to get tested.
- There are several screening test options. Talk with your doctor about which is right for you.
- Colonoscopy (every 10 years).
- High-sensitivity guaiac fecal occult blood test (FOBT) or fecal immunochemical test (FIT) (every year).
- Sigmoidoscopy (every 10 years, with FOBT or FIT every three years).
- Sigmoidoscopy alone (every 5 years).
- Stool DNA test (FIT-DNA) every one or three years.
- CT colonography (or virtual colonoscopy) every five years.
Screen for Life: National Colorectal Cancer Action Campaign
CDC’s Screen for Life: National Colorectal Cancer Action Campaign offers resources for patients and health professionals, including print materials (fact sheets, brochures, and posters) and television and radio public service announcements.
Spread the Word! Our Screen for Life Resource Toolkit provides quick access to materials you can print and distribute or share on social media, your Web site, or blog.
Take the first step. Start with walking! Why? It’s easy and it works!
We’ve got the tools and resources to get you on the right path to a healthier lifestyle.
- Walking is the simplest way to start and continue a fitness journey.
- Walking costs nothing to get started.
- Walking is easy and safe.
- Walking for as few as 30 minutes a day provides heart health benefits.
- Walking is one of the most effective form of exercise to achieve heart health.
And walking isn’t your only option. Try these tips for increasing physical activity wherever you are. You may be surprised at all your opportunities to increase your physical activity every day. Consider carrying this list with you for one day. Check off the ways you notice that you could increase your physical activity.
December is National Impaired Driving Prevention Month
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), within the U.S. Department of Transportation, with the White House’s Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP), and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Service’s Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration remind you to celebrate safely this holiday season. We stand with all those who have known the tragic consequences of drugged or drunk driving, and we rededicate ourselves to preventing it this December and throughout the year.
President Obama has designated December 2012 as National Impaired Driving Prevention Month and invites families, educators, health care providers, and community leaders to promote responsible decision-making and encourage young people to live free of drugs and alcohol.
Why do we recognize National Impaired Driving Prevention Month?
In an average year, 30 million Americans drive drunk, and 10 million Americans drive impaired by illicit drugs.
A 2010 survey by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) revealed that 13.2 percent of all people aged 16 or older drove under the influence of alcohol and 4.3 percent drove under the influence of illicit drugs during the past year.1
Furthermore, rates of impaired driving differed dramatically by age.1
- While 11.8 percent of people aged 26 and older drove drunk, 19.5 percent of people aged 16 to 25 drove drunk.
- And, 2.8 percent of the older group drove drugged, while 11.4 percent of younger drivers did so.1
December seems particularly suited to this observation because traffic fatalities that involve impaired drivers increase significantly during the Christmas and New Year’s holiday periods.2
- On average, 25 people were killed in alcohol-impaired driving crashes per day during December 2010.
- Young adults are among those at greatest risk for driving impaired. During December 2010, drivers 21 to 34 years old were alcohol impaired and involved in fatal crashes at a higher percentage than any other age group.
All 50 States and the District of Columbia enforce the minimum legal drinking age of 21 years. NHTSA asks minors to avoid alcohol, and encourages parents and other caregivers to make a new or renewed commitment to never cater a party to underage drinking. If someone you know is drinking, do not let that person get behind the wheel. If you see an impaired driver on the road, contact law enforcement. Your actions may save someone’s life, and inaction could cost a life. Families play an essential part in stopping impaired driving. By talking about the risks and setting clear expectations, parents and other caregivers can help their children stay safe, sober, and focused on the road.
Prevention Resources and Toolkits:
- Traffic Safety Marketing – a website with free campaign posters, TV/radio/web ads, and other resources, including more about NHTSA’s Buzzed Driving is Drunk Driving(link is external) and Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over campaigns.
- Too Smart to Start – a website dedicated with evidence-based approaches to help youth, families, educators, and communities prevent underage alcohol use and its related problems.
- Stop Underage Drinking – a comprehensive portal of federal resources for information on underage drinking and ideas for combating this issue.
- Teen Drugged Driving: Parent, Coalition and Community Group Activity Guide (PDF) – This guide provides coalitions, prevention groups and parent organizations with: the facts on the dangers and extent of teen and young adult drugged driving; parent and community activities for effective prevention; resources to further assist in prevention activities.
- The National Criminal Justice Reference Service compilation of resources on impaired driving, including general information, enforcement, and prevention, in observation and recognition of National Impaired Driving Prevention Month.
For more information:
- Read the President’s 2012 proclamation here.
- NHSTA’s Stop Impaired Driving website provides information to help you stop impaired driving in your community.
- Visit the ONDCP’s Drugged Driving page.
1 Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, Center for Behavioral Health Statistics and Quality. (December 9, 2010). The NSDUH Report: State Estimates of Drunk and Drugged Driving. Rockville, MD. Accessible at: http://oas.samhsa.gov/2k10/205/DruggedDriving.cfm
2 National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. (2007). 2012 Holiday Crackdown Fact Sheet: Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over. Available at: http://www.trafficsafetymarketing.gov/CAMPAIGNS/Drunk+Driving/Drive+Sober+or+Get+Pulled+Over/National+Crackdown/Campaign+Materials
Read why it’s so important to shop small on Small Business Saturday, and everyday: https://www.americanexpress.com/us/small-business/shop-small/
Other than skin cancer, breast cancer is the most common cancer among American women. Getting mammograms regularly can lower the risk of dying from breast cancer. The United States Preventive Services Task Force recommends that if you are 50 to 74 years old, be sure to have a screening mammogram every two years. If you are 40 to 49 years old, talk to your doctor about when to start and how often to get a screening mammogram.
Are you worried about the cost? CDC offers free or low-cost mammograms. Find out if you qualify.
What Are the Symptoms?
There are different symptoms of breast cancer, and some people have no symptoms at all. Symptoms can include any change in the size or the shape of the breast, pain in any area of the breast, nipple discharge other than breast milk (including blood), and a new lump in the breast or underarm. If you have any signs that worry you, see your doctor right away.
How Can I Lower My Risk?
The main factors that influence your risk for breast cancer include being a woman, being older (most breast cancers are found in women who are 50 years old or older), and having changes in your breast cancer genes (BRCA1 and BRCA2). Most women who get breast cancer have no known risk factors and no history of the disease in their families. There are things you can do to can help lower your breast cancer risk. The Know:BRCA tool can help you assess your risk of having changes in your BRCA genes.
Although breast cancer screening cannot prevent breast cancer, it can help find breast cancer early, when it is easier to treat. Talk to your doctor about which breast cancer screening tests are right for you, and when you should have them.
Fast Facts About Breast Cancer
- Each year in the United States, more than 200,000 women get breast cancer and more than 40,000 women die from the disease.
- Men also get breast cancer, but it is not very common. Less than 1% of breast cancers occur in men.
- Most breast cancers are found in women who are 50 years old or older, but breast cancer also affects younger women. About 10% of all new cases of breast cancer in the United States are found in women younger than 45 years of age.
Find out how to safeguard yourself
Lugging every pill you take to your next doctor’s appointment or trip to the pharmacist might seem like overkill, but it could save your life—especially if you take multiple drugs or supplements.
In fact, regularly taking five or more medications—something many Americans do—often does more harm than good, especially if you’re not closely monitored by a healthcare provider.
“The chances of drug interactions and side effects increase dramatically as the number of medications you take goes up,” says Michael A. Steinman, M.D., a geriatrician at the University of California, San Francisco, Medical Center.
Sometimes those drug interactions magnify a drug’s potency, sometimes they diminish its effectiveness, and sometimes they trigger dangerous side effects.
And they’re becoming much more common, says Dima M. Qato, Pharm.D., a pharmacist at the University of Illinois at Chicago. An April 2016 JAMA Internal Medicine study she coauthored found that two-thirds of older adults take five or more medications and supplements daily, up 14 percent since 2006. And one in six use medications, supplements, or both that shouldn’t be combined.
Here’s how to stay safe when taking multiple medications.
Have you experienced a drug interaction?
Tell us your story in the comments section below.
Have a ‘Brown-Bag’ Checkup
At least once yearly, gather every prescription and over-the-counter drug you take, including drops and ointments, as well as every dietary supplement, vitamin, mineral, or herbal remedy you use, and bring them all to your doctor or pharmacist.
During that review, often called a “brown-bag checkup,” the doctor or pharmacist should check to see whether any interact with each other or whether you’re unnecessarily taking different drugs to treat the same problem. If so, you might be able to eliminate one of the drugs. Also ask whether the dosage of each medication you take can be lowered, or possibly even eliminated.
After your brown-bag review, create a list of all of the prescription and OTC products you take. Include the dosage, the reason you take the drug, and the name of the prescribing doctor. Then give that list to every pharmacist and doctor you see. Review your list every four to six months and any time you add a new medication.
Fill all of your prescriptions at one pharmacy or pharmacy chain if possible. They usually share the same electronic record-keeping system, so a pharmacist will always know which medications you take and can more easily spot potential problems.
6 Key Questions to Ask
You can reduce the chance of taking more medications than you need by asking the following questions each time you get a new prescription or your doctor recommends an OTC product:
1. What Is the Medication For?
It might seem obvious, but asking that basic question reduces the risk of taking an inappropriately prescribed drug—something that happens surprisingly often.
For example, a study of older veterans who took five or more prescription drugs found that 65 percent were told to take at least one drug that was unnecessary—medications that were ineffective, were not indicated for their condition, or duplicated the therapeutic benefits and actions of other drugs. One common example: The OTC drug ibuprofen (Advil and generic) and prescription drug celecoxib (Celebrex and generic) have similar pain-relieving actions, so they shouldn’t be taken together.
2. How Long Should I Take It?
Asking this can help spot medications you regularly take that should be used only short-term. For example, proton pump inhibitors such as omeprazole (Prilosec and generic), taken for severe heartburn, should not be taken for more than about six months because longer use increases the risk of bone fractures and can cause low blood levels of magnesium, which can trigger muscle spasms, irregular heartbeat, and seizures. And sleep aids should be used for only very brief periods because they can cause side effects such as next-day drowsiness and impaired coordination and balance, and they can lead to dependence.
3. Is This Similar to Another Drug I Already Take?
If you see several healthcare providers, some might be unaware of what others have prescribed—and could prescribe drugs similar to one you already take. For example, your primary-care physician might prescribe a diuretic (a “water pill”) to lower high blood pressure. But your neurologist might prescribe a beta-blocker, which also reduces blood pressure, to prevent migraines. In that case, you might be better off with just the beta-blocker because it treats both conditions.
4. Can Nondrug Alternatives Help Me?
In some cases you might be able to eliminate or reduce your need for drugs by making certain lifestyle changes. For conditions such as high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and type 2 diabetes, for example, losing excess weight, exercising regularly, and consuming a healthy diet can sometimes be as effective as drugs. And exercise and physical therapy can often help ease arthritis as well as back, shoulder, and neck pain, allowing you to cut back on drugs such as ibuprofen (Advil and generic) and naproxen (Aleve and generic).
5. Will This Medication Interact Dangerously With Other Prescription Drugs or OTC Products I Take?
The more medications you use, the greater the likelihood of drug interactions. For example, taking the cholesterol-lowering drug simvastatin (Zocor and generic) with the blood pressure drug amlodipine or the blood thinner warfarin (Coumadin and generic) could trigger potential deadly bleeding. The same could happen by combining aspirin with the blood thinner clopidogrel (Plavix and generic) or OTC pain drugs such as ibuprofen or naproxen.
6. What Side Effects Could This Medication Cause?
Being aware of possible side effects can help you spot them before they cause serious harm. For example, muscle aches might be due to a cholesterol-lowering statin you take—and if allowed to continue, could progress to severe kidney damage. Knowing what to expect can also help you recognize new symptoms as drug side effects, not new health problems.
For instance, if you develop confusion after taking the urinary incontinence drug oxybutynin (Ditropan XL and generic), you’ll be less likely to worry about it as an early sign of dementia if you were warned that confusion is a possible side effect of the drug.
Recognizing side effects can also help you avoid “prescribing cascade,” says Jerry H. Gurwitz, M.D., chief of the division of geriatric medicine at the University of Massachusetts Medical School in Worcester. That happens when, instead of stopping the drug that is causing the problem, your doctor mistakenly prescribes yet another medication to treat the drug side effect—which can lead to additional side effects or drug interactions. “This is a huge issue that is underappreciated,” Gurwitz says.
Editor’s Note: This article and related materials are made possible by a grant from the state Attorney General Consumer and Prescriber Education Grant Program, which is funded by the multistate settlement of consumer-fraud claims regarding the marketing of the prescription drug Neurontin (gabapentin).
Recognizing National Immunization Awareness Month (NIAM)
National Immunization Awareness Month (NIAM) is an annual observance held in August to highlight the importance of vaccination for people of all ages. NIAM was established to encourage people of all ages to make sure they are up to date on the vaccines recommended for them. Communities have continued to use the month each year to raise awareness about the important role vaccines play in preventing serious, sometimes deadly, diseases.
NIAM is sponsored by the National Public Health Information Coalition (NPHIC). For more information on the observance, visit NPHIC’s NIAM website.
NPHIC, in collaboration with CDC’s National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases, developed communication toolkits to help you communicate about vaccines for various audiences. Each week of #NIAM16 focuses on a different stage of the lifespan:
People of all ages can protect their health with timely vaccination.
- Adults (Aug. 1-7)
- Pregnant women (Aug. 8-14)
- Babies and young children (Aug. 15-21)
- Preteens and teens (Aug. 22-28)
There is also an abbreviated toolkit for school-aged children to help you remind parents to get their children vaccinated before the school year starts.
The toolkits include sample key messages, media materials, social media messages, FAQs, and web links and resources. You can also get eye-catching NIAM logos and banners to highlight your participation in NIAM on your social media profiles. A media outreach toolkit is one of the new resources available this year to help you reach out to media on immunization-related topics. To download the toolkits, visit NPHIC’s NIAM website.
Find CDC Immunization Resources
CDC develops immunization materials our partners can use in local outreach and education efforts during NIAM and throughout the year. Below are links to materials you can use during NIAM and beyond to
- Remind parents of the important role vaccines play in protecting their child’s health and answer their questions about vaccines
- Encourage college students to talk to their healthcare professional about any vaccines they may need for school entry
- Educate adults, especially older adults and adults with chronic conditions, about vaccines they may need
- Educate pregnant women about getting vaccinated to protect newborns from diseases like whooping cough (pertussis) and flu
- Remind everyone that the next flu season is only a few months away
Check with your state or local health department to see if they have additional immunization resources you can use during NIAM, or plans to celebrate the month.
- Page last reviewed: June 14, 2016
- Page last updated: June 28, 2016
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