Pharmacoeconomics Education in US Colleges and Schools of Pharmacy

Article excerpt


Pharmacoeconomics is aninterdisciplinaryfield that overlaps with health economics and clinical/humanistic outcomes. (1) The International Society for Pharmacoeconomics and Outcomes Research (ISPOR) is a pioneer in promoting the science of pharmacoeconomics and outcomes research with the goal of improving health by enhancing the effectiveness of health care. (2) The ISPOR Learning Outcomes Task Force defined the target audience for pharmacoeconomics and healthcare outcomes research as follows: pharmaceutical industry (marketing/sales/managers), formulary committee members, clinicians, outcomes researchers (academia/industry/contract research organizations /etc), and health policymakers or funders (government/private). The minimum skills for all target audiences (eg, pharmacy students) include being able to do the following (3): identify and define terminology; describe the basics of economic evaluation (principles); know when an economic evaluation is necessary (evaluation grid); explain the techniques of basic statistics; distinguish between clinical (ie, practical) and statistical (ie, mathematical) significance; evaluate the quality of a publication/report; describe methods for literature searches and reviews; identify the basics of quality-of-life/patient-reported outcomes measures.

In addition to their role as providers of health and wellness to the population, pharmacists need to be experts in monitoring and assessing outcomes associated with their services. (4) An understanding of pharmacoeconomic concepts can help pharmacists compare inputs (costs for pharmaceutical products and services) and outputs (outcomes). (5) Pharmacoeconomic analysis allows pharmacists to make critical decisions about formulary determination, disease management, and assessment of therapeutic and biotechnology drugs. (6) Hence, awareness of pharmacoeconomics and outcomes research is critical for pharmacists. This raises questions about the extent of pharmacoeconomics education for PharmD students and its standardization.

The vision of future pharmacy practice described in the 2011 Accreditation Council for Pharmacy Education (ACPE) Guidelines includes training pharmacists to be responsible for optimal medication therapy outcomes while providing patient care. This includes assessing the cost-effectiveness of treatment options. Specific guidance on the PharmD curriculum (Appendix B of the AFPE Guidelines) includes the following topics for economics/ pharmacoeconomics (unchanged from 2007) (7): economic principles in relation to pharmacoeconomic analysis; concepts of pharmacoeconomics in relation to patient care; and applications of economic theories and health-related quality-of-life concepts to improve allocation of limited health care resources.

In 2010, the North American Pharmacist Licensure Examination (NAPLEX) added pharmacoeconomics to 3 competency statements (8):

Section 1.2.0. "Evaluate information about pharmacoeconomic factors, dosing regimen, dosage forms, delivery systems and routes of administration to identify and select optimal pharmacotherapeutic agents for patients"

Section 1.3.0. "Evaluate andmanage drug regimens by monitoring and assessing the patient and/or patient information, collaborating with other health care professionals, and providing patient education to enhance safe, effective, and economic patient outcomes."

Section 3.1.2. "Evaluate the suitability, accuracy, and reliability of clinical and pharmacoeconomic data by analyzing experimental design, statistical tests, interpreting results, and formulating conclusions."

Previous studies have investigated the extent of pharmacoeconomics education in US colleges and schools of pharmacy in 1997 (9) and 2007, (6) the same year that the new ACPE standards and guidelines became effective. As of 1997, of the 79 US colleges and schools of pharmacy, 63 (82%) were offering at least some pharmacoeconomics education, with a median of 16 classroom hours on the topic. …


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