Researcher Spotlights the Healthy Impact of Pharmacists

Jan. 4, 2001

Patients at high risk for medication problems can receive innovative and valuable help from pharmacists, without increasing overall health-care costs, according to a College of Pharmacy researcher.

A study by Daniel Malone and colleagues, examined the impact of pharmacist_s interactions with patients who were at high risk for medication-related problems. Dr. Malone is an assistant professor and director of the Division of Pharmaceutical Policy at the College_s Center for Health Outcomes and PharmacoEconomic Research.

Funded by Pharmacia, the study was conducted at nine Veterans Affairs Medical Centers and followed patients for one year. The research revealed that VA patients who had the benefit of direct medication management from a pharmacist were able to lower their cholesterol levels. In addition, the study determined that extra visits with a pharmacist did not significantly increase overall health-care costs. Results of the study are published in the October and December 2000 issues of Pharmacotherapy.

"Results from this study provide sound evidence that clinical pharmacists can improve disease management while not increasing overall costs of care," said Malone.

The research is unique because pharmacists were not specifically directed to help patients lower their cholesterol levels, according to Malone. Instead, pharmacists were allowed to provide the types and levels of interventions they determined to be important for patients regardless of their medical problems or medication needs.

In addition to their usual medical care, patients in the study met with a pharmacist at least three times to discuss their medications. The pharmacists were then responsible for making medication adjustments to improve care and disease control and to identify and prevent medication-related problems such as drug interactions and medication noncompliance.




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