Research Supports Use of Consultant Pharmacists

By Gebhart, Fred | Drug Topics, January 8, 1996 | Go to article overview

Research Supports Use of Consultant Pharmacists


Gebhart, Fred, Drug Topics


Evidence is mounting that consultant pharmacy services can cut long-term care costs without reducing the quality of care. Nursing home studies in Oregon and West Virginia showed significant cost savings as a result of consultant pharmacists' recommendations to change or stop drug therapy.

"That's not news to consultant pharmacists," said Alison Johnston, pharmacy operations manager for Evergreen Pharmaceutical service in Portland, Ore. "We're already aware of our contributions. The real impact of these results comes from sharing them with our customers, nursing home staff, and administrators, physicians, and corporate buyers. Information is a marketable product."

Johnson followed more than 10,000 patients and R.Ph.s' recommendations from routine drug regimen reviews in 122 long-term care facilities for one month. During the month, consultant pharmacists made 3,464 recommendations, which saved $15,111 in drug product costs alone.

The study, announced at the annual meeting of the American Society of Consultant Pharmacists in San Francisco, did not tally savings in drug preparation, administration, and monitoring, or other costs associated with drugs not administered. Cost savings were based on Medicaid reimbursement rates.

More than half of the interventions involved central nervous system, cardiovascular, and gastrointestinal products. And while up to 85% of the recommendations called for increased monitoring of patients or clarification of drug orders, direct Rx interventions produced an average savings of $18.70 per script. Recommendations accepted by physicians resulted in either no change in the patient's condition or a positive change in outcome 99.5% of the time.

"Anytime a pharmacist can effect a change with a positive impact or no impact on patient health," Johnston said, "you have a positive step. …

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