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Community pharmacy

Community pharmacy can significantly improve care in long-term conditions, large-scale analysis finds

A Cochrane review of the benefit of community pharmacy in managing long-term conditions, such as diabetes and high blood pressure, has given its “cautious” endorsement.

A large-scale analysis of the evidence for basing schemes to improve the management of long-term conditions in community pharmacy has given a “cautious” endorsement of their effect on patient care.

The study, published in the Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews on 4 September 2018, found that some nondispensing services provided by community pharmacists can have “positive effects” for patients, but results from trials are “varying”.

The authors reviewed 111 trials covering 40,000 nonhospital patients and found that pharmacy services can significantly improve management of blood pressure and physical function, but there was no evidence they could reduce hospital visits or admissions.

The researchers said that services delivered by pharmacists “produced similar effects on patient health, compared with services delivered by other healthcare professionals”, and could prove cheaper than doctor-led services; however, they added that the results should be viewed “cautiously because there was major heterogeneity in study populations”. 

They concluded: “This review demonstrates that pharmacist services have varying effects on patient outcomes, compared with usual care. Some services appear to have little effect whilst others have the potential to improve important outcomes on a scale which is clinically important.”

The results of the study were presented at the International Pharmaceutical Federation Congress on 4 September 2018.

Margaret Watson, professor of health services research at the University of Bath, who led the review, said: “What is really important about this review is that it shows pharmacist services can achieve clinically relevant improvements for patients and could lead to benefits for some long-term conditions — particularly diabetes and high blood pressure.”

However, Watson added: “There are some caveats. Due to poor reporting of the details from some trials and overall low quality of evidence, we can’t pinpoint the specific elements of a pharmacist service that are having an effect. So we would like to see much better detailed reporting in future trials.”

The 2018 FIP congress in Glasgow, Scotland, brings together pharmacy practitioners and pharmaceutical scientists from around the world to consider ways of extending the role of pharmacists so that they play a full part in ensuring patients, and health systems, achieve full benefit from the medicines people take.

The theme of the 78th FIP World Congress of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences is ‘Pharmacy: Transforming outcomes!’.

This is the first time that the FIP World Congress has been held in the UK for nearly 40 years. The last time was in 1979, making this a truly unique learning opportunity for pharmacists and pharmaceutical scientists in Great Britain.

UK healthcare company RB is Gold Sponsor of this year’s congress.

Citation: The Pharmaceutical Journal DOI: 10.1211/PJ.2018.20205399

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