Psychiatric pharmacy

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Psychiatric pharmacy, also known as mental health pharmacy, is the area of clinical pharmacy specializing in the treatment of people with psychiatric illnesses through the use of psychotropic medications. It is a branch of neuropsychiatric pharmacy, which includes neurologic pharmacy.[1]


The College of Psychiatric and Neurologic Pharmacists (CPNP) is a professional organization that represents psychiatric pharmacists within the United States. CPNP credits two key pharmacists with developing clinical psychiatric pharmacy as a specialty: Dr. Glen Stimmel, PharmD, BCPP and Dr. R. Lee Evans, PharmD, FASHP, BCPP.[1][2] Dr. Stimmel would later become a founding member of CPNP, as well as serve as its president.[3] Dr. Matthew Fuller PharmD, BCPP, FASHP, CPNP Foundation President 2006-2007, has recognized Dr. Stimmel as the “Father of Psychiatric Pharmacy."[3][4] The specialty of psychiatric pharmacy was recognized by the Board of Pharmacy Specialties (BPS) in 1992.[1]


In the United States[edit]

Psychiatric pharmacy is practiced by psychiatric (also called "neuropsychiatric") pharmacists. Psychiatric pharmacists tend to have a board certification in the specialty of psychiatric pharmacy, granting the title of Board Certified Psychiatric Pharmacist (BCPP) by the BPS, and attach the post-nominals after their professional degrees.[5] Because the BPS does not have a separate certification for neurologic pharmacists, neurologic pharmacists may be classified as BCPP's as well (indeed, there is a significant amount of overlap between the two subspecialties). It is not uncommon for psychiatric pharmacists to be residency trained through a specialized residency (post-graduate year 2, abbreviated "PGY2") program in psychiatric pharmacy.[6] Psychiatric pharmacists work in both the inpatient and outpatient settings.

Psychiatric pharmacists working for the Veterans Health Administration can have salaries between $112,268-145,955.[7]

In the United Kingdom[edit]

Psychiatric pharmacy is practiced by specialist mental health pharmacists. Specialist mental health pharmacists tend to work in the inpatient setting, within mental health hospitals.[8] Credentialing is performed through the College of Mental Health Pharmacy (CMHP), which assesses the experience and aptitude of pharmacists working in the field of mental health (psychiatric) pharmacy. Credentialed members are granted the title of Member of the College of Mental Health Pharmacy (MCMHP), and attach the post-nominals after their professional degrees.[9]

Scope of practice[edit]

As experts in pharmacotherapy, psychiatric pharmacists are trained to assure that patients suffering from mental illness are treated with the most appropriate medications for their conditions. They provide a variety of services aimed at making sure that patients are treated safely, that side effects are minimized (if not eliminated), and that pharmacologic treatments are efficacious at controlling or halting disease progression.

Comprehensive medication management[edit]

Psychiatric pharmacists provide a service called comprehensive medication management (CMM), which involves a thorough assessment of a patient's present and past medication history, laboratory work-up and exam findings, and treatment goals. During CMM, psychiatric pharmacists look for drug related problems (DRPs) related to their patients' pharmacotherapy and correct them in collaboration with psychiatrists, social workers, and other members of the interdisciplinary healthcare team, collaborating closely with the patient and their family.[10][11]

Therapeutic drug monitoring[edit]

Psychiatric pharmacists provide therapeutic drug monitoring, which involves ordering laboratory tests that will measure the concentration of a medication in the blood. This is especially useful in the area of psychiatric pharmacy because a lot of drugs used to treat psychiatric illnesses (for example, lithium citrate and clozapine) have a narrow therapeutic window. There is a lot of potential for severe adverse reactions when using certain psychiatric medications, making therapeutic drug monitoring a useful tool for preventing harmful outcomes. The National Council for Behavioral Health, a collaborative that represents the interests of psychiatric professional organizations, offers recommendations for targeted, interdisciplinary interventions by psychiatric pharmacists, including pharmacist-lead clozapine clinics and providing long-acting injectable antipsychotic administration services.[12]

Psychiatric pharmacists are sometimes involved in collaborative practice agreements which physicians, which allows pharmacists to add or remove medications from a patient's drug regimen, change the strengths/dose or frequencies of medications, the duration of treatment, and the route of administration.[13] Combined with therapeutic drug monitoring, this allows psychiatric pharmacists to directly make changes to a patient's drug regimen based on the results from laboratory tests.


  1. ^ a b c "Neuropsychiatric Pharmacy FAQ". CPNP. Archived from the original on 23 April 2017. Retrieved 23 April 2017.
  2. ^ "2004 Saklad Award Recipient". CPNP. Retrieved 26 April 2017.
  3. ^ a b "CPNP Foundation Awards the Career Achievement Award to Glen Stimmel, PharmD". The CPNP Perspective. CPNP. Retrieved 26 April 2017.
  4. ^ "CPNP Past Presidents". CPNP. Retrieved 26 April 2017.
  5. ^ "Psychiatric Pharmacy: Board of Pharmacy Specialties". Board of Pharmacy Specialties. Board of Pharmacy Specialties. Retrieved 23 April 2017.
  6. ^ Weber, Stanley. "What psychiatric pharmacy is, what we do, and how we treat patients". What psychiatric pharmacy is, what we do, and how we treat patients: American Pharmacists Association. American Pharmacists Association. Retrieved 23 April 2017.
  7. ^ "Mental Health Pharmacist". U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. Retrieved 10 July 2017.
  8. ^ Sutcliffe, Daniel. "The role of pharmacy in mental health". Royal Pharmaceutical Society. Retrieved 27 April 2017.
  9. ^ "Credentialing". College of Mental Health Pharmacy. Retrieved 27 April 2017.
  10. ^ "Comprehensive Medication Management (CMM) Guide". Comprehensive Medication Management (CMM) Guide. CPNP. Retrieved 23 April 2017.
  11. ^ Shah, Monica. "Psychiatric pharmacists help optimize patient care". Psychiatric pharmacists help optimize patient care: Drug Topics. Drug Topics. Retrieved 23 April 2017.
  12. ^ The Psychiatric Shortage: Causes and Solutions. National Council for Behavioral Health. March 28, 2017. p. 52.
  13. ^ Leheny, Shelby. "Could Prescribing Become a Daily Duty for Pharmacists?". Pharmacy Times. Retrieved 23 April 2017.

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