Pharmacist Intervention Improves Osteoporosis Medication Compliance

September 30, 2014
Rachel Lutz

Pharmacist-led drug use evaluation programs improve osteoporosis management in general practice.

Pharmacist-led drug use evaluation (DUE) programs improve osteoporosis management in general practice, according to a study published in Drugs & Aging.

“Pharmacists often exist on the periphery of the primary health care team. This is unfortunate, given the prevalence of medication-related problems in general practice and pharmacists’ expertise in medication management and quality use of medicines,” corresponding author Edwin Tan, a PhD candidate, told Pharmacy Times in an exclusive interview. “We saw a need for greater integration of pharmacists into the primary health care team, and the physical colocation of pharmacists in the general practice clinic seemed ideal.”

For the study, Tan and his colleagues from Monash University in Australia studied 2 general practices in Melbourne as a subset of the Pharmacists in Practice Study. Data collected from the medical records of patients aged 50 years or older included date of osteoporosis diagnosis, latest bone mineral density scan results, vitamin D levels, and therapy-naïve status, although the researchers focused particularly on anti-osteoporosis medication prescriptions and the use of vitamin D and calcium supplements.

“Osteoporosis (is) an ideal therapeutic area in which to perform a DUE, given its prevalence and undertreatment,” Tan continued. “This was a therapeutic area that the clinics thought was important for their patients, and the DUE program was developed in collaboration with the clinic staff and research team.”

After analyzing 213 osteoporosis patients at baseline and the 12-month post-intervention mark, the study authors found that the proportion of patients prescribed an anti-osteoporosis medicine increased between those time periods, most commonly for bispohosphonates. Additionally, vitamin D and calcium supplement intake increased significantly among the patients following the DUE program.

“Although we anticipated some improvement in the prescription of anti-osteoporosis medicines following the pharmacist’s intervention, we did not expect such a significant effect,” Tan said of the findings. “The results highlight the benefits of a multifaceted intervention that targets patients and prescribers at both the individual and group level (and) illustrate the valuable role pharmacists can play as part of the general practice team.”

The researchers noted that their results aligned with those of a previous US-based study that showed pharmacist-managed osteoporosis services in general practice improve compliance with medication guidelines.

“A pharmacist-led DUE program is a feasible, acceptable, and effective strategy to achiev(e) this,” Tan concluded. “We encourage physicians and pharmacists to work collaboratively within the general practice environment. Such partnerships can lead to better medicines use and patient outcomes, as we demonstrated in our study.”