Study shows pharmacist-physician partnership reduces health care costs, bad drug interactions

MINNEAPOLIS / ST. PAUL (Aug. 7, 2003) -- Pharmacists working with physicians to monitor and maintain patients' drug therapies may reduce drug-related illnesses and the $177 billion spent annually to correct those problems, a study published today reports.

Pharmacists trained in pharmaceutical care, the practice of identifying, resolving, and preventing drug therapy problems that adversely affect patients' care, can safely solve patient medication problems, including potentially dangerous drug interactions, by using the collaborative care approach, according to the study published today in the Archives of Internal Medicine. A pharmacist-physician partnership is one type of collaborative care, which is increasingly offered in health care settings.

The study, which examined the collaborative care approach of pharmaceutical care, was conducted by researchers from the University of Minnesota College of Pharmacy and Fairview Health Services. The study, which judges the quality of care delivered by pharmacists, is the first to use the same quality-assurance process physicians employ.

"Not only did patients, pharmacists, physicians and other health care providers work together to identify and resolve an average of 2.3 drug therapy problems per patient, but physicians agreed with more than 94 percent of all clinical decisions made by pharmacists to help patients achieve their treatment goals and resolve drug therapy problems," says Brian Isetts, Ph.D., B.C.P.S., lead researcher on the study.

The percentage of patients who had the desired effect from their drug therapy increased from 74 percent during their initial visits to the pharmaceutical care clinic to 89 percent at their latest visit. The study also found pharmacists were able to resolve the drug-therapy problems without directly involving the patients' physicians in many cases. For example, pharmacists increased compliance by making complicated drug regimens more understandable and more manag

Contact: Rebecca Lentz
University of Minnesota

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