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    Your New Role in the Battle Against Depression

    Pharmacists have a role for those who are fighting depression


    Improving Adherence

    Depressed patients may be prone to non-adherence with their depression medications or other drugs they may be taking for chronic conditions.

    Some evidence has shown, however, that when a pharmacist is involved and implements strategies to improve adherence, the rates can improve in this patient population. Genoa, a company that specializes in mental-health pharmacy, provides specialized services to more than 500,000 people with mental illnesses or other chronic conditions each year. The company has long placed an emphasis on improving medication adherence in its patients.

    Linda Rowe-Varone, PharmD, BCPP, a Clinical Pharmacist with Genoa who works in a pharmacy at an outpatient mental health facility, says their pharmacists work to improve adherence by using special packaging, regularly following up with patients if they fail to pick up refill prescriptions, coordinating with in-patient treatment centers to make sure medication lists are up-to-date, and notifying members of the care team if a problem is identified.

    “I feel as if we really reach out to our clients,” she says.”For example, when it comes to our patients refills, we call them in advance. We inform them that it’s getting to be time for their refill.” The pharmacy then offers patient pick up, delivery, or even mailing the medications based on patient preference.

    Pharmacists can also help improve adherence by providing patients with realistic expectations about their medications. Patients need to know that it will take several weeks before they will feel the full effects of their medication.

    Removing the Stigma

    Unfortunately, a stigma still exists for many suffering from mental health conditions. Pharmacists can help diminish this stigma by having open conversations with patients and doing whatever they can to help a patient meet his or her goals regardless of their health condition.

    “I think it’s important for pharmacists in the community or clinic to familiarize themselves with depression and other mental illnesses,” Cobb says. “These should be treated like any other chronic medical conditions, and people need to be treated with respect.”

    Patients with depression may be more prone to medication non-adherence.
    Linda Rowe-Varone, PharmD, BCPP, a clinical pharmacist with Genoa, says her company has been able to improve patient adherence through these strategies:

    • Using packaging that is easy and convenient for patients

    • Working with the medical team to secure prior authorization

    • Eliminating any barriers for patients to getting their medications, including offering home delivery

    • Following up with patients through personal phone calls if they fail to pick up refills

    • Coordinating with in-patient treatment centers to have an accurate medication list

    • Notifying the patient’s care team if a concern arises

    Jill Sederstrom
    Jill Sederstrom is a Contributing Editor


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