What is Sports Pharmacy?

Pharmacy personnel working with athletes or volunteering at sporting events combine their passion for sports with their professional career. Pharmacists are the medication experts. Sports pharmacists put this medication expertise into context for athletes.

The title of sports pharmacist (SPh) is earned through advanced training. Competency is developed through specialized education and years of proven practice, dedication to science, ethics, and continuing education. It is not a label that just any pharmacist can adopt, though all pharmacists have the foundational training to become sports pharmacists.

Sports pharmacy experts in the field originally worked quietly behind the scenes, as Athlete Support Personnel want to see their athletes in the spotlight, not themselves. In the past decade, sports pharmacy has exploded onto the world stage!

“Athletes are healthy and don’t use prescriptions– they want to avoid drugs,” you say?

They are generally healthy individuals, but still have medication needs and many drug questions.

Young athletes and their parents seek out a sports pharmacist to confirm drug or supplement information the young athlete heard from a coach or peers or the internet. Elite athletes use personal sports pharmacists to evaluate their acute self-care needs, select OTC treatments or certified and batch-tested dietary supplements that are safer for an athlete to use, and rely on the sports pharmacist for customized drug information when they do take medication.

Pharmacists often bridge the gaps in the continuum of care because of the number of visits consumers make to the pharmacy and the sports pharmacist’s focus on health maintenance to ensure top athletic performance, with appropriate clinical use of drugs when necessary, and prioritize deprescribing to avoid overuse of medications. Pharmacists training to provide comprehensive medication review (which includes dietary supplements, non-conventional health substances, hygiene product, and any non-food substance the athlete ingests, injects or otherwise puts into or on their body) allows us to view the whole person and their understanding of disease prevention and management.

Health-conscious consumers value pharmacists medication expertise in self-care, disease prevention, minor ailment self-treatment, herbal medicine, and knowing they can trust a pharmacist to refer them to a higher level of medical care when necessary. The global reach of pharmacies, located in nearly every community, makes for a large pharmacist workforce that is accessible to the local public. We already have practice in serving our community’s health needs.

In the same way general practice pharmacists often have many roles, sports pharmacists also act as supply chain managers, medical insurance liaisons, hazardous product storage / transport/ handling / administration experts, drug researchers, community liaisons, drug counselors, surgery specialists, vaccination centers, medical relief providers, drug procurements experts, protocol /procedure creators, and so much more.

What makes pharmacists unique partners for athletes and sport event managers is the meticulous practice (personality trait) of people that are drawn into this profession.

Sports pharmacists often feel appreciated and are highly complimented when integrated into the team, but this expertise is not provided for free — this is work.

Sports pharmacists recognize aspiring athletes’ financial constraints and consider cost-effectiveness of medications and dietary supplements. We often work with young athletes for a deeply discounted rate or, whenever possible, charge money to the school, management team, or large agency for the consultation. Sports pharmacists value increases for the athlete when integrated into the athlete’s entourage.

ISPN continues to ramp up the awareness campaign for this unique pharmacy practice due to increasing consumer demand for pharmacist knowledge on dietary supplements, nutrient/nutritional products, medical foods, and prescription/non-prescription drugs.

The title of sports pharmacist (SPh) is earned through advanced training, years of proven practice, dedication to science, ethics, and continuing education. It is not a label that just any pharmacist can adopt, though all pharmacists have the foundational training to become sports pharmacists.

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