Pharmacy Intervention Program Will Save NHS England Millions

Pharmacy service was launched 6 years ago to help patients remain adherent to treatment regimens.

A UK-based pharmacy intervention designed to increase treatment adherence could save the National Health Service (NHS) England £500 million in the long-term, new data show.

The New Medicine Service (NMS) was launched by the Department of Health in 2011 to help patients stick with their treatment as instructed.

To determine the program’s success, experts at the universities of Manchester and Nottingham, as well as a patient and a public representative, examined self-reported adherence data at 10 weeks from a sample of 503 patients.

The results of the study showed in its first 5 years, NMS will save NHS England more than £517.6m ($674.2 million USD) in the long-term.

Pharmacists are paid £24.60 ($32 USD) each time a patient is looked after, and in the short-term, the NMS has saved the NHS £75.4m ($98.2 million USD).

“This is a simple intervention which has been popular with community pharmacists and patients, and is transferable into most therapeutic areas,” said lead investigator Rachel Elliott. “Some medicines, for example, can have early adverse effects but they subside over time such as anti-depressants.

“And we also believe these findings are likely to have applicability to other health care systems, including those based on insurance.”

From the start of NMS to the end of August 2016, an estimated 3.59 million consultations have been claimed, with more than 820,000 in 2015-2016.

Of the 11,495 community pharmacies in England, 91.2% delivered the NMS to at least 1 patient between November 2011 and January 2014.

“These are significant benefits for 2 reasons because so many patients have experienced the service,” Elliott said. “We also think our figures are probably on the conservative side given probable patient recruitment bias, use of self-report of adherence, and the assumption that all the patients in the intervention arm actually received the NMS.”

Research shows the cost of non-adherence for NHS England is more than £930 million ($1.2 billion USD) per year for asthma, type 2 diabetes, high cholesterol/coronary heart disease, hypertension, and schizophrenia alone.

“Our study suggests NMS increased patient medicine adherence compared with normal practice, which translated into increased health gain at reduced overall cost,” Elliott said. “On the basis of the evidence we have gathered for this research, we strongly recommend that NMS should continue to be commissioned in the future.”