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NEWS: Pharmacists prevent GP overtreatment

by in GP Practice Management, News

When pharmacists work within general practice teams, the quality of prescribing increases, according to a study in Ireland.

Dr Frank Moriarty and colleagues at the Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland, based in Dublin, examined the potential improvements of integrating pharmacists into general practice teams, particularly for patients with multimorbidity and polypharmacy.

They carried out a pilot study in four general practices covering a range of population sizes and demographics. In total, about 35,000 patients were signed up to the practices. Each practice was joined by a pharmacist for six months who undertook medication reviews, and gave prescribing advice and training.

The pharmacists flagged 786 patients who had 1,521 potential issues relating to medication effectiveness or possible side effects, most commonly relating to proton pump inhibitors, benzodiazepines, and anti-inflammatory drugs. Changes were made in over half of these cases, leading to a potential cost saving of approximately 57,000 Euros each year.

Results appeared in BMJ Open on Monday (29 June). The authors write: “An intervention involving pharmacists working within general practices is feasible to implement and has potential to improve prescribing quality. This study provides rationale to conduct a randomised controlled trial to evaluate the clinical and cost-effectiveness of this intervention.”

Dr Moriarty commented: “Our findings clearly demonstrate the possible benefit of introducing general practice pharmacists to the Irish healthcare system. While further study is needed to establish the cost-effectiveness of such an initiative nationwide, implementing it would work towards alleviating the pressure our GPs are under and improving the quality of care for Irish patients.

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