How The Pharmaceutical Industry Is Changing The Way We Take Care Of Ourselves | Dr. Pam Gu...

A growing number of patients have learned that proper communication and connection is essential when talking to a medical expert. This is why Dr. Pam takes such pride in the personal connections she makes with her patients as a Consulting Pharmacist.

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If the past year has taught us anything, it’s that the relationship we have with our healthcare providers is one of the most important we’ll have in this lifetime, so we need to choose wisely when it comes to the professionals we trust with our health and safety. 

The pharmaceutical industry is one of the largest in this country, yet most people assume their connection with their pharmacist needs to end when they pick up their medications. This is where consulting pharmacists come into play. A consulting pharmacist is a “medication therapy management expert who provides advice on the use of medications by older adults, whether they live in the community or in long-term care facilities.”

Dr. Pam Gumbs is a consulting pharmacist who’s main goal has always been to make each of her patients feel like they’re being heard, and have a real voice when it comes to their bodies and health conditions. The staff of pharmacists and technicians working at Consulting With Dr. Pam all follow the same understanding that there is no such thing as a one-size-fits all cure, so they never use a one-size-fits-all approach when talking to their patients about what they’re experiencing. 

Dr. Pam herself claims that all of her patients understand that when they come in for treatment, they will be evaluated based on their entire medical history in order to come to the most effective treatment option for whichever ailment that specific individual is facing. 

At Consulting With Dr. Pam, our experienced medical staff take great pride in treating each and every one of our patients as a valued individual. When you visit our location you will always leave knowing that your focused treatment plan is targeted to your specific needs.”

I began my medical career in 1971 after I moved from Massachusetts to San Francisco to attend the School of Pharmacy at the University of California. I graduated with a  Doctorate-In-Pharmacy Degree in 1975 and went on to complete a residency in geriatrics at the University of California San Francisco Geriatric Institute. During my time there I was also active in the Pharmacist Society of San Francisco, and earned an additional Certification in Hospitality Administration,” Dr. Pam explained. 

She explained how when she initially graduated she began teaching entry level classes which is where she was first introduced to the idea of becoming a consulting pharmacist: 

“When I first graduated from UCSF School of Pharmacy, I found myself with the responsibility of teaching an over-the-counter drug class to first year pharmacy students, which is their first encounter with pharmacology and the clinical assessment of the patient. When the students inquired as to my opinion about the field of pharmacy, I likened it to the term ‘cutless surgery’: who does the consumer or patient come to with regards to the correction of a physical or physiological occurrence? A pharmacist with knowledge of clinical pharmacy can offer proper medication to correct these issues without having to enter the body.”

Additionally, after she completed her residency she found herself helping mainly helping individuals over the age of 65, which she thought of as a “really educational experience because our systems change constantly when we get older, but especially when we get to a more senior age. Through that process and teaching I was introduced to Consulting Pharmaceuticals and that’s where I ended up staying.” 

By that point, Dr. Pam established United Pharmacy, which according to her website is “an organization that provides pharmaceutical services based on a patient’s full medical history, and uses pre-existing records to ensure that the treatment they receive will work best and avoid adverse reactions. The goal is to approach every case individually. As owner and CEO of United Pharmacy, Dr. Pam is responsible for company operations such as inventory, customer relations, consultation and recruitment. Although she provides consultation on all kinds of medications, she specializes in the treatment of asthma and other respiratory conditions.”

“As a consulting pharmacist, we specialize in every single culture and age group that exists in the US. We go beyond just filling up medications for our patients, we want them to have a greater understanding of why they’re taking the medication they are and how it’s going to make them feel better.”

Dr. Pam has been in the consulting pharmaceutical industry for over 40 years now, so she’s seen the way modern medicine has grown, developed, and failed certain individuals. One of the biggest points she emphasizes to her patients is maintaining a trusting relationship with not only your general physician, but your pharmacist so that you have multiple experts who are able to tell you about what you’re taking and what exactly it’s going to do. 

“As a consulting pharmacist we always put the patient first, we’re not just filling medications and delivering prescriptions, we assess the risks, explain the side effects, and give them essentially all the information they need to feel confident in the medicine they’re taking, because it can be a scary thing to ingest multiple foreign pills every day,” she explained. 

“In the pharmaceutical industry we have something called the cascade effect. To give an example, say I’m a patient who’s on medication for my heart, and my blood pressure starts to drop but my stomach begins to hurt, so you give me another pill, like an antacid, and that helps but then I feel dizzy, and the cycle continues. Normally, this type of cascade isn’t discussed in a regular pharmacy setting but when our patients come in we make sure to ask them specifically how each medication makes them feel, not just how they are feeling in general.” 

Language has always been an extremely important aspect to Dr. Pam’s practice: “We need to normalize asking patients how they specifically feel on each new medication. If you’re just asking ‘how have you been feeling lately’ they’re more likely to say ‘just fine’ instead of discussing the side effects that they’re experiencing due to how general that question is.” 

“More times than not when we have these in depth discussions with our patients we can do the proper research and ideally find fewer medications that they can take that will help them with their ailments, but also reduce the amount of negative effects.”

“Pharmacists are a major part of the healthcare industry, so when we talk to our patients and explain what they’re taking, why they’re taking it, what it’s supposed to do, and the possible side effects that they could experience, it makes them feel a lot more comfortable and confident in what they’re putting into their bodies.”

One of the ways that Dr. Pam and her team accomplish this sort of trusting relationship through the way they package and deliver medications to their patients. 

“We focus a lot on what we call compliance packaging, so when clients are on multiple medications at once instead of receiving five different pill bottles with five separate packages of instructions and information, we organize them into one large package based on the time of day in which the medication should be taken (morning, afternoon, evening, before bed). Then on the back of each of these large packages, which we refer to as compliance packages, is exactly what is in each package.”

“So, for example, say a patient talks to their doctor and they want them off one of three medications they’re taking, the patient can simply look at the pack of the compliance packaging and remove those pills from their routine without worrying that they’re getting rid of the wrong medication; so many medications physically look similar to one another.”

Dr. Pam explained that “beyond the extensive information provided in these packs, they also give all the physical details and markings that each medication has. This is to ensure all of our patients know exactly what each pill does; if you have five white pills and your doctor wants you to stop taking one of them, it’s important that you can differentiate.”

Consulting With Dr. Pam has also taken on herbal alternative recommendations for certain patients based on their specific ailments and past experience with medication. According to their website, when it comes to herbal alternatives to treating certain medical conditions, “we know there is sound clinical research that shows that certain herbs, vitamins, minerals and food supplements work effectively to prevent or fight disease. There are also many proposed mechanisms in which science has suggested that certain herbs, vitamins, minerals and food supplements help protect normal cells and fight invading viral cells directly, stop abnormal cell growth or enhance the body’s own immunity.​”

Dr. Pamela Gumbs is a major expert in the pharmaceutical industry, so it makes sense that she’s worn many hats, and has received multiple accolades for her amazing work in consulting pharmaceuticals. 

Dr. Pam’s wide renown and professional nature sees her affiliated with a number of associations, including the Christian Pharmacists International Association, American Society of Consultant Pharmacists, California Pharmacists Association, American Pharmacists Association, Federation of International Pharmacists, and the Board of Governors and the P&T Committee. She is also a former President of the Alameda County Pharmacy Association, former President of the American Society of Consultant Pharmacists California Chapter, and Pharmacy Representative for Alameda Alliance Health Association. Dr. Gumbs is also the City of Berkeley Consultant Pharmacist, which is a prestigious role for anyone in the field. However, for Dr. Gumbs, her proudest moment of her professional life has been the presidential tour she took in 1987 which allowed her to broaden her horizons by travelling to China,” according to her biography

To learn more about Dr. Pam and the consulting pharmaceutical industry in general, click here.