Blackmores Institute: It’s vital we help pharmacists enhance supplements knowledge

By Gary Scattergood

- Last updated on GMT

Blackmores Institute director Dr Lesley Braun will speak at the event.
Blackmores Institute director Dr Lesley Braun will speak at the event.

Related tags Medicine Pharmacology

Blackmores Institute is to hold its first Singapore symposium as part of its efforts to help train and guide pharmacists to safely and effectively integrate supplements into their practices.

The event, of which NutraIngredients-Asia is the exclusive media partner, takes place at the Grand Copthorne Waterfront on March 23.

Blackmores Institute director Dr Lesley Braun told us it was vital to help pharmacists in the region develop the knowledge they need to best help consumers.

“Personally, I’ve been involved in the interface at looking at the relationship between pharmaceutical medicines and natural medicines for around 20 years. We realised that a lot of pharmacists don’t always have the time to look at this, and maybe haven’t since they were at university,” ​she said.

“I think overall in this area there has been a lot of attention given to the negative interactions between pharmaceutical medicines and natural medicines, but there is an increasing amount of science that is looking at the positive interactions and I think it is important we know about those too.”

The institute, which is the academic and professional arm of Blackmores Ltd, already provides a number of tools for pharmacists, such as complimentary medicine interaction guides and online e-learning modules.

Dr Braun said the demand from pharmacists for more training in this area was revealed by a recent study it sponsored in Malaysia.

More than 450 pharmacists completed an online survey. The frequency of use of different types of supplements by pharmacists, attitudes towards their use and pharmacists’ knowledge scores were measured.

It revealed that over 80% of Malaysian pharmacists believe their profession should play a greater role in recommending supplements and other complementary medicines to their customers, but most are having to teach themselves about the benefits of such products.

On average, pharmacists only achieved about 54% in a knowledge test on complementary medicine and drug interactions and 71% on the clinically proven benefits of supplements.

“This study showed just how much people wanted to learn in this area and that they felt their knowledge wasn’t perhaps where it needed to be,”​ said Dr Braun.

“And that’s a common finding, not only in Malaysia, but it is what we have also seen in Australia.”

Open to all

Almost three-quarters of the recipients also said they would welcome more training.

“The amount of training in this area, by and large, is not of great focus,”​ said Dr Braun.

“But in most countries over half of the population is taking some kind of supplement, yet pharmacists don’t get much information about appropriate dosages, correct usage and safety issues.”

Dr Braun stressed that the symposium was open to all pharmacists and those with an interest in this field.

The day-long event will hear from a range of speakers, including Peter Fell, pharmacist manager at UFS Dispensaries in Australia, who has considerable experience in integrating complementary medicines into the company’s pharmacies.

Dr Braun will also be speaking, discussing the latest research in omega-3.

“When you look at the omega-3 research, the body of evidence is quite remarkable, with around 80% of clinical trials showing real benefits. I really think omega-3 and its benefits needs to be underlined,”​ she added.

People interested in attending the event can find out how to register here.

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