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    Pharmacist Intervention Helps Elderly Patients

    A new study shows that a pharmacist-physician team can lower inappropriate drug use.

    A recent study from the University of Kentucky provides more evidence that increased collaboration between pharmacists and physicians can positively impact patient outcomes.

    The study, published in Alzheimer’s Research and Therapy, looked at 50 patients in the University of Kentucky Alzheimer’s Disease Center who were taking at least one medication with anticholinergic properties and who worked with a group to reduce inappropriate medication use.  

    Previous studies have shown that elderly patients are often at risk for inappropriate prescribing—in one study 20% of nondementia patients and 15% of dementia patients were at risk. Frail elderly patients are prescribed, on average, 15 medications, increasing the likelihood of riskier prescribing practices. Anticholinergic drugs in particular have been shown to have a negative impact with dementia patients because they are linked with cognitive impairment effects.

    The 50 patients were divided into a control group and an intervention group. The intervention group received medication therapy management (MTM). All patients received the FDA guide on the importance of discussing medications with health-care providers. The MTM interventions were carried out by a pharmacist-clinician team, and included reviewing anticholinergic drugs and recommending their discontinuation if deemed appropriate.

    Overall, the study found that MTM intervention led to an improvement in anticholinergic appropriateness. The study authors noted that this research could be important in developing effective methods for optimal medication outcomes in elderly patients.

    Related article: How Pharmacists Can Team Up with Physicians to Improve Care

    At the beginning of the study, 60% of the patients agreed that it was important to discuss medications with their doctor and 32% said the same about pharmacists. After the study was completed, 74% said it was important to discuss medication with their doctor and 60% said the same about their pharmacist. Eighty-six percent of patients also said that they believed it is important to better understand their medications.

    The study authors said that this could be an effective method for improving brain health care. “The inclusion of a clinical pharmacist with extensive experience in conducting medication therapy management reviews added value for the brain health care provided on a regular basis by clinicians at the UK ADC clinic,” they noted.

    According to a University of Kentucky press release, the authors have secured additional funding to complete a larger one-year study following more patients who have received MTM intervention. “When physicians and pharmacists work together, everyone wins," said Daniela Moga, MD, PhD, co-author of the study and Assistant Professor in the Department of Pharmacy Practice and Science at the University of Kentucky. "It’s clear that including a pharmacist on the patient-care team means better outcomes and better healthcare for patients.”

    Find the whole study here.

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