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You And Your Pharmacist: Building A Healthy Relationship

July 22, 2010

A new study, published in a recent issue of the Journal of the American Pharmacists Association, reveals that a healthy relationship with your pharmacist will keep you, well, healthy. It will also save money. The study looked at a system called Medication Therapy Management. That’s when pharmacists and physicians work together to review patient profiles and decide on treatment plans, and pharmacists advise patients on how to take their medications and recommend lower-cost treatment options, such as over-the-counter medications. These efforts not only improved patient’s health, but were also found to decrease prescription drug costs for the North Carolina Medicaid program. The study was conducted by the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, and Raleigh-based Kerr Drug and supported by a grant from the National Association of Chain Drug Stores (NACDS) Foundation. Researchers reviewed the cases of 88 patients enrolled in North Carolina’s Medicaid program from 2006-2007. The analysis showed that patients’ health improved through pharmacist counseling and that the MTM services helped the North Carolina Medicaid program save an average of $107 per beneficiary.

“Medication therapy management is more than just filling a prescription, it’s about helping patients completely understand their medications,” says Anthony Civello, chairman and CEO of Kerr Drug. “Our pharmacists provide personal health services and teach patients how to follow a medication regimen, recommend lower-cost medication alternatives and recognize potential harmful drug interactions.”

Surveys show many Americans don’t understand their health information with as many as one in four Americans—roughly 75 million people—not following directions when taking prescription medications. The New England Healthcare Institute estimates that medication-related problems, including patients not taking medications in the right ways, adds up to roughly $290 billion dollars annually in emergency room visits, hospitalizations, doctor visits and other forms of preventable care. Programs like MTM can help the individual as well as the healthcare system as a whole.