In the latest edition of our Nutrition Asia video series, we spoke with Dr Lesley Braun - who leads the supplements giant's research arm - to discuss the relationship between the industry and pharmacists.
Watch the video to hear Dr Braun discuss why many pharmacists are often unable to offer the level of service around supplements that consumers demand.
She also speaks about concerns among drug and supplement interactions and the vital role pharmacists need to play when it comes to advising consumers about dosages and product quality.
Furthermore, she goes on to explain why providing a high level of supplements service can help create a niche for pharmacists in the health care space.
Boosting pharmacists' knowledge of supplements has been a key priority for Dr Braun and the institute.
In March it held its first Singapore symposium as part of its efforts to help train and guide pharmacists to safely and effectively integrate supplements into their practices.
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.”