Magazine article Drug Topics

Pharmacists Helping Patients Take Charge of Their Health

Magazine article Drug Topics

Pharmacists Helping Patients Take Charge of Their Health

Article excerpt

Tying to escape the prescription-as-loss-leader trap, a group of pharmacists are moving into the prevention and wellness arena by using a lifestyle-modification system to improve the health of their patients and their own bottom lines.

Take Charge is a turnkey lifestyle management system being used by about 200 pharmacists around the country to help patients with chronic diseases, such as hypercholesterolemia, hypertension, Type 2 diabetes, obesity, and osteoporosis. Based on improved diet, exercise, and disease management to reduce or eliminate the need for medication, the system targets the estimated 75% of patients with chronic diseases tied to poor lifestyle.

Patients who enroll in the 13week program are educated about ways to modify their lifestyles and encouraged to take the steps necessary to better manage their condition. At the center of the system is the pharmacist acting as teacher and mentor, said Tom Breslin, president of Ultra Nutrition International Inc., the Charlottesville, Va., firm that created Take Charge.

"Independents are not too happy about making $3 or $4 off a drug that costs a couple of hundred," Breslin told Drug Topics. "They can't stay alive doing that. We've developed Take Charge over the past 14 years, so it's not a brand-new program. It's been beaten on, tried, and proven. What we've done is restore the triad of the patient, the physician, and the pharmacist. But the focus is all around the pharmacist."

One of those pharmacists, Michael Gilfillan, v.p., West End Drug Co., created the Take Charge Health Wellness Longevity Center in the family's Bar Harbor, Maine, pharmacy He sees it as an extension of his involvement in the Project ImPACT hyperlipidemia study conducted by the American Pharmaceutical Association. "In Project ImPACT, we had patients who refused to take the drugs," he said. "I was doing what I could, but then I found this system and implemented it in my pharmacy. We came up with good results. Those patients got to target goals and enjoyed their ability to do that with a nondrug method. I've seen figures from APhA that show that upwards of 85% of people given an option with results equal to a drug prefer nondrug treatment."

Using materials included in the package, Gilfillan contacts physicans to enlist them in the lifestylemodification effort by writing an Rx for Take Charge. He thinks it's important for physicians to know the pharmacists aren't acting on their own out on the fringes of health care. …

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