US Pharm. 2015;40(7):1.

As midsummer approaches, U.S. Pharmacist is about to enter into a transitional season. With this issue, I assume the editorial helm of one of the industry’s top clinical journals for pharmacists as my predecessor, Harold Cohen, RPh, retires to a different role. Thankfully, Harold will continue to lend his vast clinical insights as consulting clinical editor, ensuring a seamless segue to a new era at the publication.

The pharmaceutical industry, too, finds itself in the midst of a transition of sorts. Some pharmacists are moving beyond the traditional model of filling prescriptions to a more proactive paradigm of counseling patients and thereby directly influencing health outcomes. In some states, pharmacists can even prescribe medications, functioning as virtual full-fledged healthcare providers in such areas as birth control and vaccination.

While it remains to be seen where this ambitious endeavor will lead, there is no doubt that counseling affords pharmacists the pathway to an expanded role—and more responsibility for patients’ welfare. For some pharmacists, interacting with customers and suggesting a course of action will come naturally; other pharmacists will benefit from guidance in this area as they venture out from behind the counter.

Publications such as U.S. Pharmacist are in an excellent position to help practitioners hone their communication skills through authoritative, peer-reviewed feature articles and insightful, relevant columns. Departments such as “Consult Your Pharmacist” (page 8), this month featuring the inaugural column of Emily Ambizas, PharmD, strive to do just that: facilitate clear pharmacist-patient communication about commonly encountered questions in the pharmacy. In this issue’s installment, which focuses on respiratory diseases, Dr. Ambizas writes about allergic rhinitis and the role of OTC corticosteroid sprays. Given the plethora of products now available without a prescription, pharmacists can assist patients in the proper and effective use of these medications and devices.

Staying on the respiratory disease theme, this month’s continuing education (CE) article (page 59) spotlights the burgeoning number of diseases affecting the respiratory tract, such as SARS (severe acute respiratory syndrome), MERS (Middle East respiratory syndrome), hMPV (human metapneumovirus), and, more recently, EV-D68 (enterovirus D68). These often-insidious ailments pose a significant threat to world health and carry the potential for epidemic impact.

Pharmacists are well situated to survey patients with respiratory complaints about any recent travel or animal exposure while assessing their respiratory symptoms. The challenge posed by these emerging respiratory viruses is their ability to adapt and mutate to resist clinical interventions, as well as their origin in human-animal interaction. As the authors of this CE article state, “Emerging and reemerging respiratory tract infections continue to present major challenges in diagnostic, treatment, prevention, and control strategies.”

This is where I believe peer-reviewed publications such as U.S. Pharmacist play a critical role. The pharmaceutical research community will need considerable ingenuity to devise effective drug-development strategies and defeat or at least manage these opportunistic adversaries. In each issue, authors from a variety of therapeutic disciplines share their vast clinical knowledge. Ultimately, the goal is to develop rapid diagnostic tests and effective pharmaceuticals to treat emerging respiratory diseases should they take hold, and to create vaccines to mitigate their spread.

As U.S. Pharmacist enters a new phase, I value and invite readers’ comments concerning the relevance of our editorial coverage to their everyday lives. After all, we are competing for your valuable time, and we want to be sure we are helping you spend your time most efficiently. And, given the vast infiltration of electronic devices into your work and home lives, I am also especially interested in how well you think we are delivering information to your computers, phones, and tablets and via social media.

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