Study Highlights Emerging Role of Pharmacists in Patient Care

Kate H. Gamble, Senior Editor
Published Online: Thursday, September 15, 2011
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Pharmacists play a critical role in the successful management of cardiovascular disease (CVD) risk factors in outpatients, including reductions in blood pressure and cholesterol, according to a review article published in the September 12, 2011 issue of Archives of Internal Medicine.

“This article provides further evidence of the tremendous value of pharmacy in helping patients lead healthier lives, and in helping to reduce the necessity of more costly forms of care,” said Steven C. Anderson, IOM, CAE, president and CEO of the National Association of Chain Drug Stores (NACDS), in a statement.

The article, he noted, highlights the accessibility of pharmacists, a point that is “underscored by the fact that nearly all Americans live within 5 miles of a community pharmacy. Partnering with community pharmacy continues to emerge as a powerful strategy for improving health and healthcare delivery.”

In the study, researchers from McGill University in Montreal and the University of Lausanne in Switzerland analyzed 30 randomized control trials involving pharmacists’ interventions with outpatients at high risk of CVD to determine the impact of pharmacist care in managing risk factors.

Although CVD is the leading cause and morbidity and mortality worldwide, control of risk factors is “far from optimal,” according to background information provided in the study. “Because patients have difficulties accessing primary care physicians and health care costs are rapidly rising, greater use of community-based models of care has been proposed,” the authors wrote. “Among those models is the greater integration of the pharmacist as a provider of health services and member of the health care team.”

Researchers analyzed interventions conducted exclusively by a pharmacist or those conducted by a pharmacist in collaboration with a physician or nurse, which included patient educational interventions, patient-reminder systems, measurement of CVD risk factors, medication management and feedback to physicians, or educational intervention to health care professionals.

They found that pharmacist care was associated with significant reductions in systolic/diastolic blood pressure, total cholesterol, low-density lipoprotein cholesterol, and a reduction in the risk of smoking.

"The traditional view of the pharmacist’s role in primary care is medication distribution,” the authors wrote. “Although this role remains an important part of the activity of a pharmacist, evidence documented in our systematic review and previous reviews demonstrates a transformation of pharmacy practice toward a more clinical, patient-centered role and a collaborative approach toward pharmacist-physician in patient care.”

The authors also stated that because of their knowledge of drug therapy, pharmacists are “particularly well positioned to provide the necessary medication instructions to patients to improve safe medication use and are in collaboration with primary care physicians to assist in preventive CVD care.”

To access the Archives of Internal Medicine article, click here.

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