Clinical Pharmacists Worth the Investment--January 2009

Article

A new study found that clinical pharmacists can reduce medication costs.

A comprehensive analysis of 93 studies between 2001 and 2005 found that clinical pharmacy services can significantly reduce the cost of prescription drugs and other health care costs, found a study reported in Pharmacotherapy (January 2009).

For the study, the researchers wanted to examine the impact of clinical pharmacy services, defined as services that involve direct patient care by a clinical pharmacist. Unlike traditional pharmacy services, in which a pharmacist dispenses medications, clinical pharmacists make recommendations to physicians on drug therapy or may even help write the prescription.

The most common types of clinical pharmacy services evaluated were general pharmacotherapy monitoring devices, target drug programs, and disease state management services. Clinical pharmacy services in the studies were performed in hospitals, ambulatory care clinics or physicians’ offices, or community pharmacies.

For every dollar invested by hospitals or health systems in clinical pharmacy services, $4.81 was achieved through lower drug costs, reductions in adverse drug events and medications, and other savings, according to senior researcher Glen Schumock, PharmD, associate professor and director of the University of Illinois at Chicago’s Center for Pharmacoeconomic Research.

Whereas clinical pharmacy services have been available since the late 1970s, they have only recently become more common, he said. “The expansion of clinical pharmacy services is one potential mechanism that could be more greatly employed to curb the problem of prescription drug spending,” Dr. Schumock added.

For other articles in this issue, see:

Pharmacy Groups Endorse HR 616

Stimulus Plan Likely to Include Health IT

FDA Needs Broad Reforms, Says Government Watchdog

FDA Issues Strong Warning on Topical Anesthetics

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