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Health & Safety - Public Health Education

Medication Literacy Partnership
Did you know?
* Tennesseans on an average use between 15.3 and 17.8 prescriptions per person per year.
* This is the highest prescription drug use per capita of any state in the country.
* Tennessee's prescription use is 52% higher than the national average.
* One in three people report taking more than the recommended dose of an over-the-counter medicine.
* Journal of the American Medical Association reported 80% of adults take an OTC pain reliever at least once a week.
* Journal of the American Medical Association reported 20% of adolescents misuse OTC pain relievers.
* Institute of Medicine reports that, on average, a hospitalized patient is subject to at least one medication error per day. To prevent this from happening to you, use the UT Med Minder Card (SP632).
* Learn more about the Consumer and Health Professional Survey about the use of over-the-counter medications.

A lack of health literacy about medications is a major contributing factor to poor adherence to medication regimens, medication errors and adverse reactions to medications. Tennesseans need to learn how to make wise decisions about medications at a time when medication problems and the use of numerous medications as a daily lifestyle-activity are growing among children, teens, adults and seniors. The University of Tennessee Center for Community-based Health Initiatives, partnership between the University of Tennessee College of Pharmacy and Extension, has partnered with the National Council on Patient Information and Education (NCPIE) and the Tennessee Pharmacists Association to address medication literacy in Tennessee.

The focus of the partnership is to advance the safe, appropriate use of medicines through education of the Tennesseans and communication with community pharmacists. NCPIE is a coalition of over 125 diverse organizations whose mission is to stimulate and improve communication of information on appropriate medicine use to consumers and healthcare professionals. NCPIE is the nation's leading authority for informing the general public and healthcare professionals on safe medicine use through better communication. Better medicine communication can lead to better health outcomes and improved quality of life.

The national program of NCPIE, Be MedWise, is an educational program designed to assist consumers in using over-the-counter (OTC) medications wisely. The Tennessee partnership has expanded the content to include prescription drugs also. The focus of Be MedWise Tennessee is to promote:

  1. The safe, appropriate and effective use of medications (including prescription and over-the-counter).
  2. The importance of becoming an active participant in questioning their doctors, nurses and pharmacists about medications.
  3. Seeking the advice of a pharmacist who is the least expensive and most accessible healthcare expert about all medications.

For more information about the UT Extension Health & Safety programs, please contact your local County Extension FCS Agent .

State Contacts


Barbara (Bobbi) Clarke, PhD, RD
Professor & Extension Health Specialist,
Co-Director UT Center for Community Health Literacy
University of Tennessee Extension
Family & Consumer Sciences
119 Morgan Hall
Knoxville, TN 37996-4501
Telephone: (865) 974-8197
Fax: (865) 974-5370
E-mail: bclarke@utk.edu
Gene Smith, PharmD, MPH
Associate Professor
Associate Director UT Center for Community Health Literacy
University of Tennessee
College of Pharmacy
119 Morgan Hall
Knoxville, TN 37996-4501
Telephone: (865) 974-8197
Fax: (865) 974-5370
E-mail: ebsmith@utk.edu
Ray Bullman, M.A.M.
Executive Vice President
National Council on Patient Information and Education
4915 Saint Elmo Ave., Suite 505
Bethesda, MD 20814-6082
Telephone: (301) 656-8565 ext. 14
Fax: (301) 656-4464
E-mail: bullman@ncpie.info
Baeteena Black, PharmD
Director Tennessee Pharmacists Association
500 Church Street, Suite 650
Nashville, TN 37219
Telephone: (615) 256-3023
Fax: (615) 255-3528
E-mail: bblack@tnpharm.org