Although many pharmacies sell natural health products (NHPs), there is no clear definition as to the roles and responsibilities (if any) of pharmacists with respect to these products.
The purpose of this study was to explore pharmacy and stakeholder leaders’ perceptions of pharmacists’ professional NHP roles and responsibilities.
Semi-structured key informant interviews were conducted with pharmacy leaders (n= 17) and stakeholder (n=18) leaders representing consumers, complementary and alternative medicine practitioners, conventional healthcare practitioners, and industry across Canada.
Overwhelmingly all participants believed a main NHP responsibility for pharmacists was safety monitoring. One challenge identified in the interviews was pharmacists’ general lack of NHP knowledge. Stakeholder leaders did not expect pharmacists to be experts on NHPs, rather that pharmacists should have a basic level of knowledge about NHPs. Many pharmacy leaders appeared to be unfamiliar with current pharmacy policies and guidelines concerning NHPs.
Participants described pharmacists’ professional roles and responsibilities for NHPs as similar to those for over-the-counter drugs. More awareness of existing NHP-related pharmacy policies is needed. Pharmacy owners/managers should provide additional training to ensure front-line pharmacists have appropriate knowledge of NHPs sold in the pharmacy.
PMID: 20188329 CAMSID: cams1316
natural health products; pharmacists; professional roles and responsibilities
Natural health products (NHP) use may have implications with respect to adverse effects, drug interactions and adherence yet the prevalence of NHP use by patients with acute cardiovascular disease and the best method to ascertain this information is unknown.
To identify the best method to ascertain information on NHP, and the prevalence of use in a population with acute cardiovascular disease.
Structured interviews were conducted with a convenience sample of consecutive patients admitted with acute cardiovascular disease to the University of Alberta Hospital during January 2009. NHP use was explored using structured and open-ended questions based on Health Canada's definition of NHP. The medical record was reviewed, and documentation of NHP use by physicians, nurses, and pharmacists, compared against the gold-standard structured interview.
88 patients were interviewed (mean age 62 years, standard deviation [SD 14]; 80% male; 41% admitted for acute coronary syndromes). Common co-morbidities included hypertension (59%), diabetes (26%) and renal impairment (19%). NHP use was common (78% of patients) and 75% of NHP users reported daily use. The category of NHP most commonly used was vitamins and minerals (73%) followed by herbal products (20%), traditional medicines including Chinese medicines (9%), homeopathic preparations (1%) and other products including amino acids, essential fatty acids and probiotics (35%). In a multivariable model, only older age was associated with increased NHP use (OR 1.5 per age decile [95%CI 1.03 to 2.2]). When compared to the interview, the highest rate of NHP documentation was the pharmacist history (41%). NHP were documented in 22% of patients by the physician and 19% by the nurse.
NHP use is common in patients admitted with acute cardiovascular disease. However, health professionals do not commonly identify NHP as part of the medication profile despite its potential importance. Structured interview appears to be the best method to accurately identify patient use of NHP.
To reach consensus on core competency statements for natural health products (NHPs) for Canadian pharmacy students.
Four rounds of a modified Delphi method were used to achieve consensus on core competency statements for NHPs. Pharmacy educators from Canada and the United States, and representatives from Canadian pharmacy organizations ranked their agreement using a 5-point Likert scale.
Consensus was achieved on 3 NHP-related core competency statements: (1) to incorporate NHP knowledge when providing pharmaceutical care; (2) to access and critically appraise NHP-related information sources; and (3) to provide appropriate education to patients and other health care providers on the effectiveness, potential adverse effects, and drug interactions of NHPs.
Consensus was reached among leaders in NHP education on 3 NHP-related core competency statements. Implementation of these competencies would ensure that graduating Canadian pharmacists would be able to fulfill their professional responsibilities related to NHPs.
natural health products (NHPs); competencies; Delphi method; complementary and alternative medicine; herbal medicine
Aims and Objectives
Many natural health products (NHPs) and dietary supplements (DS) are purchased in pharmacies and it has been argued that pharmacists are in the best position to provide patients with evidence-based information about them. This study was designed to identify how the pharmacist’s role with respect to NHPs/DS is portrayed in the literature.
A systematic search was conducted in a variety of health databases to identify all literature that pertained to both pharmacy and NHPs/DS. Of the 786 articles identified, 665 were broad-coded and 259 were subjected to in-depth qualitative content analysis for emergent themes.
Overwhelmingly, support for the sale of NHPs/DS in pharmacies is strong. Additionally, a role for pharmacists in NHP/DS counselling is underscored. But another recurrent theme is that pharmacists are ill-equipped to counsel patients about these products that are available on their shelves. This situation has led some to question the ethics of pharmacists selling NHPs/DS and to highlight the existence of an ethical conflict stemming from the profit-motive associated with NHP/DS sales.
This analysis raises concerns about the ethics of NHPs/DS being sold in pharmacies, and about pharmacists being expected to counsel about products of which they have little knowledge.
PMID: 20218027 CAMSID: cams1317
To address knowledge gaps regarding natural health product (NHP) usage in mental health populations, we examined their use in adults with mood disorders, and explored the potential for adverse events.
Food and NHP intake was obtained from 97 adults with mood disorders. NHP data was used to compare prevalence with population norms (British Columbia Nutrition Survey; BCNS). Bivariate and regression analyses examined factors associated with NHP use. Assessment of potential adverse effects of NHP use was based on comparing nutrient intakes from food plus supplements with the Dietary Reference Intakes and by reviewing databases for reported adverse health effects.
Two-thirds (66%; 95% CI 56 to 75) were taking at least one NHP; 58% (95% CI 47 to 68) were taking NHPs in combination with psychiatric medications. The proportion of each type of NHP used was generally higher than the BCNS (range of p’s < 0.05 to 0.0001). When intakes from food and NHP sources were combined, a small proportion exceeded any Lowest-Observed-Adverse-Effect-Levels: only for niacin (n = 17) and magnesium (n = 6), two nutrients for which the potential for adverse effects is minimal. Conversely, about 38% (95% CI 28 to 49) of the sample were taking a non-nutrient based NHP for which previous adverse events had been documented.
The prevalent use of NHPs in this population suggests that health care providers need to be knowledgeable about their characteristics. The efficacy and safety of NHPs in relation to mental health warrants further investigation.
Natural health products; Adverse events; Mood disorders
Natural health products (NHPs), such as herbal medicines and vitamins, are widely available over-the-counter and are often purchased by consumers without advice from a healthcare provider. This study examined how consumers respond when they believe they have experienced NHP-related adverse drug reactions (ADRs) in order to determine how to improve current safety monitoring strategies.
Qualitative semi-structured interviews were conducted with twelve consumers who had experienced a self-identified NHP-related ADR. Key emergent themes were identified and coded using content analysis techniques.
Consumers were generally not comfortable enough with their conventional health care providers to discuss their NHP-related ADRs. Consumers reported being more comfortable discussing NHP-related ADRs with personnel from health food stores, friends or family with whom they had developed trusted relationships. No one reported their suspected ADR to Health Canada and most did not know this was possible.
Consumers generally did not report their suspected NHP-related ADRs to healthcare providers or to Health Canada. Passive reporting systems for collecting information on NHP-related ADRs cannot be effective if consumers who experience NHP-related ADRs do not report their experiences. Healthcare providers, health food store personnel, manufacturers and other stakeholders also need to take responsibility for reporting ADRs in order to improve current pharmacovigilance of NHPs.
Natural health products (NHPs) such as herbs, vitamins and homeopathic medicines, are currently available for sale in most Canadian pharmacies. However, most pharmacists report that they have limited knowledge about these products which have been regulated in Canada as a specific sub-category of drugs. In this paper, consumers' and practicing pharmacists' perceptions of pharmacists' professional responsibilities with respect to NHPs are examined.
A total of 16 focus groups were conducted with consumers (n = 50) and pharmacists (n = 47) from four different cities across Canada (Vancouver, Edmonton, Toronto, and Halifax).
In this paper, we illustrate the ways in which pharmacists' professional responsibilities are impacted by changing consumer needs. Many consumers in the study utilized a wide range of information resources that may or may not have included pharmacists. Nevertheless, the majority of consumers and pharmacists agreed that pharmacists should be knowledgeable about NHPs and felt that pharmacists should be able to manage drug-NHPs interactions as well as identify and evaluate the variety of information available to help consumers make informed decisions.
This paper demonstrates that consumers' expectations and behaviour significantly impact pharmacists' perceptions of their professional responsibilities with respect to NHPs.
In recent years, the focus of pharmacists as traditional drug dispensers has shifted to more active and participative role in risk assessment, risk management, and other medication related consultation activities. Pharmacy profession is evolving steadily in the United Arab Emirates (UAE). Pharmacists in UAE are so much occupied in their administrative and managerial duties that dispensing is mostly attended to by pharmacy technicians. Pharmacist-led patient counseling is limited to the dosage and frequency of medications and rarely adverse reactions and drug interactions with other medications. Therefore we decided to perform quantitative questionnaires study to explore the role of pharmacist in patient counseling in UAE, the evaluation of pharmacist's opinion on patient counseling and the potential determinants of personal consultation. Results show the frequency and nature of inquiries received by pharmacist. Five to twenty inquires per month are received from patient, most of them related to drug prescription and dose recommendation. Thirty nine percent of pharmacists received inquiries from doctors, most of them related to the dose and mode of action. Ninty two percent of the pharmacists agreed that patient counseling is their professional responsibility. About 82% of pharmacists agreed that counseling will increase their sales and enhance the reputation of their pharmacies. Seventy percent of pharmacists mentioned that they need to undergo training for effective counseling while 46% of pharmacists felt that more staff in the pharmacies would have a positive influence on patient compliance to medication therapies and patient safety. The potential determinants of personal consultation show that 52% of participants trusted pharmacist and 55% considered the pharmacist as a friend. Forty eight percent of participants visited the pharmacy for medical recommendation while 30% for drug compounding, 72% agreed that pharmacist conducts full instruction while 31% agreed about full investigation. In conclusion, reorganization of the pharmacist's activities may improve pharmaceutical consultations. Pharmacists must be exposed to recent trends in drug therapy, dosage forms, dosage, adverse effects and interaction. This will go a long way in providing rational use of drugs to the patients and improve their quality of life.
Attitudes and behaviors; community pharmacists; patient counseling; patient information leaflets; personal consultation
To determine how common it is for parents to give natural health products (NHPs) to their children, which NHPs are being used, why they are being used, and parents’ assessments of the benefits and side effects of NHPs.
Newfoundland and Labrador.
Parents waiting in their family doctors’ offices.
Main outcome measures
Parent and child demographic characteristics; pediatric chronic medical conditions affecting the children; prescribed medications, over-the-counter medications, and NHPs used by the children; why the medications and NHPs were being used, the dose, and parents’ assessments of the effectiveness and side effects; and where parents had heard about the NHPs, whether they had told their physicians that the children were taking the products, and where they had obtained the products.
A total of 202 (53.4%) of the 378 eligible adults who were approached completed the survey. This represented 333 children. Mean (SD) age of the children was 5.1 (3.3) years. Overall, 28.7% of parents reported using nonvitamin NHPs for their children. A total of 137 children (41.1%) had taken NHPs (including vitamins); 61.1% of the NHPs being used were vitamins. The remainder fell under teas (primarily chamomile and green teas), echinacea, fish or omega-3 oils, and a large category of “other” products. These NHPs were most commonly used to improve general health, improve immunity, and prevent colds and infections. Approximately half of the parents (51.7%) believed their children had benefited from taking NHPs, and 4.4% believed their children had experienced adverse side effects. Slightly less than half of the parents (45.0%) had informed their physicians that their children were taking NHPs.
Overall, 45.5% of parents attending physicians’ offices reported using NHPs in their children. If vitamins are not included in the definition of NHPs, this rate drops to 28.7%. Parents most commonly use NHPs to maintain the general health of their children, to prevent colds, and to boost children’s immune systems. About half of the parents believed the NHPs helped, very few had noticed any side effects, and approximately half had informed their physicians that they were giving their children NHPs.
To gain a more thorough understanding of why parents choose to give their children natural health products (NHPs), parents’ sources of information about NHPs, and the extent of disclosure and conversation with family doctors about the use of NHPs.
Newfoundland and Labrador.
Parents of children who were using NHPs (N = 20).
Individual, semistructured interviews were carried out with parents to obtain a better understanding of the reasoning behind the use of NHPs. Key themes emerging from the qualitative data were identified according to a number of criteria, including relevance to the research objectives, frequency with which a theme was mentioned, relative importance of the themes based on the amount of text taken up to address an issue, and emphasis (eg, emphatic or emotional speech).
The types of NHPs used by parents participating in this study varied, except for the use of multivitamins. In addition, use of the products themselves was variable and inconsistent. Parents reported few concerns about the use of NHPs. The most commonly reported source of information about NHPs was family and friends. Most participants had not spoken to their family doctors about the use of NHPs.
Participants considered NHPs to be “natural” and seemed to equate this assessment with safety. This might explain why these parents sought advice and information from family and friends rather than from their family doctors and often failed to disclose the use of NHPs to their children’s family doctors.
Despite the high prevalence of Complementary and Alternative Medicine (CAM) product use among the elderly, little is known about the extent of concurrent CAM-conventional medicine use and the potential for adverse reactions.
To determine the prevalence of CAM product use concurrent with conventional medications, prescription and non-prescription, in a Medicare population and to assess the risk for adverse interactions.
Retrospective analysis was performed on Cardiovascular Health Study interview data from 1994, 1995, 1997, and 1999. The prevalence of concurrent combinations of CAM products and conventional drugs was tabulated. The adverse interaction risk was categorized as unknown, theoretical, and significant.
Of 5,052 participants the median age was 75; 60.2% were female; 16.6% African-American; and 83.4% white. The percent using CAM products during the four time periods was 6.3, 6.7, 12.8 and 15.1. The percent using both CAM products and conventional drugs was 6.0, 6.2, 11.7 and 14.4. Of these, 294 individuals (5.8%) took combinations considered to have a significant risk for an adverse interaction. Combinations with risk were observed on 393 separate interviews. Most (379) involved a risk of bleeding due to use of ginkgo, garlic or ginseng together with aspirin, warfarin, ticlopidine or pentoxifylline. An additional 786 observations of combinations were considered to have some, albeit theoretical or uncertain, risk for an adverse interaction.
Concurrent use of CAM products and conventional medicines in a Medicare population was common. Research to define the risks of combining ginkgo and garlic supplements with aspirin should be of high priority.
Interactions; herbal; elderly; garlic; ginkgo; ginseng; St. John’s wort
The use of complementary and alternative medicine (cam), including the ingestion of natural health products (nhps), is common among cancer patients. Of concern to clinicians and patients alike is the possibility that cam, used concurrently with biomedical therapy, may interact poorly with that therapy, especially chemotherapy and radiotherapy. Proponents of nhps argue that taking such products can help to reduce the side effects of conventional therapy and can provide an additional anticancer effect. However, opponents insist that the potential for harm is too great to warrant the risk of concurrent administration. There are promising examples of specific nhps that may provide patient benefit even when given in close proximity both to chemotherapy and to radiotherapy, but unfortunately, in part because of a rather limited evidence base, caution is warranted when considering the issue of therapeutic interactions. Strategic application of nhps before or after conventional therapy may be considered; however, concurrent application should be avoided as a general principle until further evidence is available regarding specific interactions.
Complementary medicine; cam; natural health products; nhps; chemotherapy; radiotherapy; antioxidants; drug–herb interactions; pharmacology
Prescription is a written order from physician to pharmacist which contains name of drug, its dose and its method of dispensing and advice over consuming it. The frequency of drug prescription errors is high. Prescribing error contributes significantly towards adverse drug events. The present study was undertaken to understand the current prescription writing practices and to detect the common errors in them at a tertiary health care centre situated in a rural area of Western Maharashtra, India.
A cross sectional study was conducted at a tertiary level hospital located at a rural area of Maharashtra state, India during October 2009-March 2010. 499 prescriptions coming to medical store during period of one month were considered for data analysis. Important information regarding the patient, doctor, drug and the general description of the prescription were obtained.
All the prescriptions were on the hospital pad. A significant number of the prescriptions (n=88, 17.6%) were written in illegible handwriting and not easily readable. The name, age and sex of the patient were mentioned is majority of the prescriptions. All the prescriptions (100%) failed to demonstrate the presence of address, height and weight of the patient. Only the brand name of the drugs was mentioned in all the prescriptions with none of them having the generic name. The strength, quantity and route of administration of the drug were found on 73.1%, 65.3% and 75.2% prescriptions.
There are widespread errors in prescription writing by the doctors. Educational intervention programs and use of computer can substantially contribute in the lowering of such errors. A short course on prescription writing before the medical student enters the clinical field and strict monitoring by the administrative authorities may also help alleviate the problem.
Prescription; error; tertiary care hospital
Over 30% of individuals use natural health products (NHPs) for osteoarthritis-related pain. The Deficit Model for the Public Understanding of Science suggests that if individuals are given more information (especially about scientific evidence) they will make better health-related decisions. In contrast, the Contextual Model argues that scientific evidence is one of many factors that explain how consumers make health-related decisions. The primary objective was to investigate how the level of scientific evidence supporting the efficacy of NHPs impacts consumer decision-making in the self-selection of NHPs by individuals with osteoarthritis.
The means-end chain approach to product evaluation was used to compare laddering interviews with two groups of community-dwelling Canadian seniors who had used NHPs to treat their osteoarthritis. Group 1 (n=13) had used only NHPs (glucosamine and/or chondroitin) with “high” scientific evidence of efficacy. Group 2 (n=12) had used NHPs (methylsulfonylmethane (MSM) and/or bromelain) with little or no scientific evidence supporting efficacy. Content analysis and generation of hierarchical value maps facilitated the identification of similarities and differences between the two groups.
The dominant decision-making chains for participants in the two scientific evidence categories were similar. Scientific evidence was an important decision-making factor but not as important as the advice from health care providers, friends and family. Most participants learned about scientific evidence via indirect sources from health care providers and the media.
The Contextual Model of the public understanding of science helps to explain why our participants believed scientific evidence is not the most important factor in their decision to use NHPs to help manage their osteoarthritis.
Natural health products; Decision-making; Means ends chain analysis; Osteoarthritis
To determine the experiences of family physicians in Newfoundland and Labrador with parents’ use of natural health products (NHPs) for their children and to assess physicians’ attitudes toward use of NHPs in children.
A survey using the Dillman approach.
Newfoundland and Labrador.
All family physicians in the province.
Main outcome measures
Physician demographic characteristics; whether physicians inquire about the use of NHPs in children; the degree to which they think patients disclose use of NHPs in children; whether they counsel parents about the potential benefits or harms of NHPs; their own opinions about the usefulness of NHPs; whether they recommend NHPs in children and for what reasons; and the particular NHPs they have seen used in children and for what reasons.
A total of 159 (33.1%) family physicians responded; 65.4% were men, 71.7% were Canadian medical graduates, and 46.5% practised in rural areas. Overall, 18.8% of family physicians said they regularly or frequently asked about NHP use; 24.7% counseled patients about potential harms. Only 1.9% of physicians believed NHPs were usually beneficial, but a similarly small number (8.4%) thought they were usually harmful. Most respondents were somewhat neutral; 59.7% said they never recommend NHPs for children, and a further 37.0% said they would only “sometimes” recommend NHPs.
Most physicians believed that NHPs were probably of little benefit but not likely to be harmful. Most NHPs used were vitamins and minerals. Physicians recognized that NHPs were often used by parents for children, but in general they believed NHPs had little effect on their day-to-day medical practices. Thirty-eight (24.7%) of the 154 physicians had at least once recommended an NHP (including vitamins) for their pediatric patients. Physicians believed that parents did not often disclose use of NHPs for their children, but at the same time physicians generally did not actively inquire.
The use of natural health products, such as vitamins, minerals, and herbs, by Canadians has been increasing with time. As a result of consumer concern about the quality of these products, the Canadian Department of Health created the Natural Health Products (NHP) Regulations. The new Canadian regulations raise questions about whether and how the NHP industry will be able to comply and what impact they will have on market structure. The objectives of this study were to explore who in the interview sample is complying with Canada's new NHP Regulations (i.e., submitted product licensing applications on time); and explore the factors that affect regulatory compliance.
Twenty key informant interviews were conducted with employees of the NHP industry. The structured interviews focused on the level of satisfaction with the Regulations and perceptions of compliance and non-compliance. Interviews were tape recorded and then transcribed verbatim. Data were independently coded, using qualitative content analysis. Team meetings were held after every three to four interviews to discuss emerging themes.
The major finding of this study is that most (17 out of 20) companies interviewed were beginning to comply with the new regulatory regime. The factors that contribute to likelihood of regulatory compliance were: perceptions and knowledge of the regulations and business size.
The Canadian case can be instructive for other countries seeking to implement regulatory standards for natural health products. An unintended consequence of the Canadian NHP regulations may be the exit of smaller firms, leading to industry consolidation.
BACKGROUND: The National Health Service (NHS) intends to introduce a system of electronic transfer of prescription-related information between general practitioners (GPs) and community pharmacies. The NHS Plan describes how this will be achieved. AIM: To gather opinions of patients, GPs, and community pharmacists on the development of a system of electronic transfer of prescription-related information between GPs and community pharmacies. DESIGN OF STUDY: Survey combining interviews, focus groups, and postal questionnaires. SETTING: General practitioners, opinion leaders, computing experts, pharmacists, and patients. Eight hundred members of the public, 200 GPs, and 200 community pharmacists, all living in Scotland. METHOD: Content-setting interviews and focus groups were conducted with purposive samples of relevant groups. Postal questionnaires were developed and sent to random samples of members of the public selected from the electoral roll, GPs, and community pharmacists. RESULTS: The corrected postal response rates were: 69% (patients); 74% (GPs); and 74% (community pharmacists). All three groups were generally supportive of electronic transfer of prescription-related information. Different aspects appealed to each group: patients anticipated improved convenience; GPs, better repeat prescribing; and pharmacists, an enhanced professional role. Security of patient-identifiable information was the main concern. All groups acknowledged potential benefits of a full primary care information system, but GPs and patients had reservations about allowing community pharmacists to access parts of the medical record that did not concern medication. CONCLUSION: Electronic transfer of prescription-related information is likely to be acceptable to all users, but concerns about patient confidentiality and an extended role for pharmacists in prescription management need to be addressed.
To measure agreement between advanced pharmacy practice experience students using a guided interview process and experienced clinical pharmacists using standard practices to identify drug therapy problems.
Student pharmacists enrolled in an advanced pharmacy practice experience (APPE) and clinical pharmacists conducted medication therapy management interviews to identify drug therapy problems in elderly patients recruited from the community. Student pharmacists used a guided interview tool, while clinical pharmacists' interviews were conducted using their usual and customary practices. Student pharmacists also were surveyed to determine their perceptions of the interview tool.
Fair to moderate agreement was observed on student and clinical pharmacists' identification of 4 of 7 drug therapy problems. Of those, agreement was significantly higher than chance for 3 drug therapy problems (adverse drug reaction, dosage too high, and needs additional drug therapy) and not significant for 1 (unnecessary drug therapy). Students strongly agreed that the interview tool was useful but agreed less strongly on recommending its use in practice.
The guided interview process served as a useful teaching aid to assist student pharmacists to identify drug therapy problems.
guided interview; drug therapy; advanced pharmacy practice experience; interview; medication therapy management
Medication errors are a widespread problem which can, in the worst case, cause harm to patients. Errors can be corrected if documented and evaluated as a part of quality improvement. The Danish community pharmacies are committed to recording prescription corrections, dispensing errors and dispensing near misses. This study investigated the frequency and seriousness of these errors.
40 randomly selected Danish community pharmacies collected data for a defined period. The data included four types of written report of incidents, three of which already existed at the pharmacies: prescription correction, dispensing near misses and dispensing errors. Data for the fourth type of report, on adverse drug events, were collected through a web‐based reporting system piloted for the project.
There were 976 cases of prescription corrections, 229 cases of near misses, 203 cases of dispensing errors and 198 cases of adverse drug events. The error rate was 23/10 000 prescriptions for prescription corrections, 1/10 000 for dispensing errors and 2/10 000 for near misses. The errors that reached the patients were pooled for separate analysis. Most of these errors, and the potentially most serious ones, occurred in the transcription stage of the dispensing process.
Prescribing errors were the most frequent type of error reported. Errors that reached the patients were not frequent, but most of them were potentially harmful, and the absolute number of medication errors was high, as provision of medicine is a frequent event in primary care in Denmark. Patient safety could be further improved by optimising the opportunity to learn from the incidents described.
To examine if the prescription sales data from a large retail pharmacy chain in the US were comparable to Google Flu trends and CDC’s US ILI Network data as flu activity indicator.
In a 2007 survey of public health officials in the United States, International Society for Disease Surveillance found that only 7% used pharmacy prescription sales data for surveillance (1). There have been many reports suggesting effective use of prescription sales data in syndromic surveillance (2, 3, 4, 5). Community pharmacies can provide a valuable supplementary tool for syndromic surveillance of infectious diseases.
We extracted five years of de-identified prescription sales data from the proprietary pharmacy computer system of a large retail pharmacy chain in the United States. The prescriptions were written for the common drugs for the treatment of influenza: Amantadine, Os-eltamivir, Rimantadine, and Zanamivir. We acquired Google Flu trends national aggregate counts data that represented the estimates of the ILI cases per 100,000 physician visits. We acquired CDC ILINET data for 2007. We calculated Pearson ‘r’ between our data and Google and CDC data. We also created comparable trends graphs after converting the counts of the influenza scripts and the counts of the Google estimated ILI cases to logarithmic scale.
The Pearson ‘r’ between the aggregate counts of scripts for all the four drugs and the Google estimates of the ILI cases for years 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, and 2011 were 0.85 (95% CI, 0.75–0.91), 0.92 (95% CI, 0.86–0.95), 0.91(95% CI, 0.85–0.95), 0.88 (95% CI, 0.80–0.93), and 0.87 (95% CI, 0.78–0.92) and 0.92 (95% CI, 0.90–0.94) for years 2007 through 2011 together. The Pearson ‘r’ between the aggregate counts of scripts and the CDC % unweighted ILI (2007) was 0.97 (95% CI, 0.95–0.98).
A strong to very strong correlation between prescription sales data and Google Flu trends and CDC’s ILI activities data for influenza suggests that the former can serve as a good and valid influenza activity indicator. Community pharmacies with large footprints might want to proactively build automated syndromic surveillance systems with near real time reporting capabilities and explore the possibility of building predictive models (3) and of forming partnerships with public health agencies for syndromic surveillance.
Pearson ’r’ between prescription sales data and Google Flu trends and CDC ILI data
public health; syndromic surveillance; Flu; prescription sales; activity or early warning indicator
Currently, far too many older adults consume inappropriate prescriptions, which increase the risk of adverse drug reactions and unnecessary hospitalizations. A health education program directly informing patients of prescription risks may promote inappropriate prescription discontinuation in chronic benzodiazepine users.
This is a cluster randomized controlled trial using a two-arm parallel-design. A total of 250 older chronic benzodiazepine users recruited from community pharmacies in the greater Montreal area will be studied with informed consent. A participating pharmacy with recruited participants represents a cluster, the unit of randomization. For every four pharmacies recruited, a simple 2:2 randomization is used to allocate clusters into intervention and control arms. Participants will be followed for 1 year. Within the intervention clusters, participants will receive a novel educational intervention detailing risks and safe alternatives to their current potentially inappropriate medication, while the control group will be wait-listed for the intervention for 6 months and receive usual care during that time period. The primary outcome is the rate of change in benzodiazepine use at 6 months. Secondary outcomes are changes in risk perception, self-efficacy for discontinuing benzodiazepines, and activation of patients initiating discussions with their physician or pharmacist about safer prescribing practices. An intention-to-treat analysis will be followed.
The rate of change of benzodiazepine use will be compared between intervention and control groups at the individual level at the 6-month follow-up. Risk differences between the control and experimental groups will be calculated, and the robust variance estimator will be used to estimate the associated 95% confidence interval (CI). As a sensitivity analysis (and/or if any confounders are unbalanced between the groups), we will estimate the risk difference for the intervention via a marginal model estimated via generalized estimating equations with an exchangeable correlation structure.
Targeting consumers directly as catalysts for engaging physicians and pharmacists in collaborative discontinuation of benzodiazepine drugs is a novel approach to reduce inappropriate prescriptions. By directly empowering chronic users with knowledge about risks, we hope to imitate the success of individually targeted anti-smoking campaigns.
ClinicalTrials.gov identifier: NCT01148186
Patient education; Benzodiazepine use; Inappropriate prescription; Older adult health; Cognition disorders; Drug therapy; Polypharmacy
OBJECTIVE: To determine whether listings of current medications obtained from the office file of patients' attending physicians and the pharmacy record of patients' dispensing pharmacists corresponded to the actual use of medications in a group of non-institutionalized seniors residing in rural communities. DESIGN: In-home interviews followed by retrospective office chart and pharmacy database reviews. SETTING: Two rural communities in southern Alberta with populations of less than 7000 people. PARTICIPANTS: Twenty-five patients aged 75 years or older residing in the study communities, eight family physicians, and four dispensing pharmacies. MAIN OUTCOME MEASURES: Number of currently consumed prescription drugs, currently consumed over-the-counter (OTC) drugs, and stored or discontinued prescribed medications; knowledge of medications (prescribed, OTC, and stored) by family physicians and pharmacists; and number of prescribers or dispensing pharmacists. RESULTS: Patients took a mean of 56 prescribed medications, took a mean of 3.5 OTC medications, and had a mean of 2.0 stored or discontinued medications. Attending family physicians and primary dispensing pharmacists typically knew of only some of their patients' entire regimen of medications. CONCLUSIONS: Misinformation about medication consumption by seniors was common among health care providers. Undertaking routine medication reviews (with emphasis on OTC use), asking specific questions about actual consumption, encouraging use of one prescriber and one pharmacist, discouraging storage of discontinued medications and reducing use of medication samples should be of benefit.
Drug related problems (DRPs) are common among elderly patients who are discharged from the hospital and are using several drugs for their chronic diseases. Examples of drug related problems are contra-indications, interactions, adverse drug reactions and inefficacy of treatment. Causes of these problems include prescription errors and non-compliance with treatment. The aim of this study is to examine the effect of medication review and cognitive behaviour therapy of discharged patients by community pharmacists to minimize the occurrence of drug related problems.
A randomized controlled trial will be performed. Community pharmacists will be randomized into a control group and an intervention group. 342 Patients, aged over 60 years, discharged from general and academic hospitals, using five or more prescription drugs for their chronic disease will be asked by their pharmacy to participate in the study.
Patients randomized to the control group will receive usual care according to the Dutch Pharmacy Standard. The medication of patients randomised to the intervention group will be reviewed by the community pharmacist with use of the national guidelines for the treatment of diseases, when patients are discharged from the hospital. The Pharmaceutical Care network Europe Registration form will be used to record drug related problems. Trained pharmacy technicians will counsel patients at home at baseline and at 1,3,6,9 and 12 months, using Cognitive Behaviour Treatment according to the Theory of Planned Behaviour. The patient's attitude towards medication and patient's adherence will be subject of the cognitive behaviour treatment. The counselling methods that will be used are motivational interviewing and problem solving treatment. Patients adherence towards drug use will be determined with use of the Medication Adherence Report Scale Questionnaire. There will be a follow-up of 12 months.
The two primary outcome measures are the difference in occurrence of DRPs between intervention and control group and adherence with drug use. Secondary endpoints are attitude towards drug use, incidence of Re-hospitalisations related to medicines, functional status of the patient, quality of life and the cost-effectiveness of this intervention.
Combining both medication review and Cognitive Behaviour Treatment may decrease DRPs and may result in more compliance with drug use among patients discharged from the hospital and using 5 or more chronic drugs.
Dutch Trial Register NTR1194
Pharmacists have made many contributions to HIV/AIDs research and are still showing their significance as members of the healthcare team through innovative clinical trials. Pharmacists are showing advances in several healthcare settings including inpatient, outpatient, and community pharmacies. Because of the complex regimens of highly active antiretroviral therapy (HAART), the increased life span of patients living with HIV, and other concomitant medications taken for comorbid disease states, there is a high risk for health-related complications and the development of adverse events. These adverse events may lead to decreased adherence to HAART, which may cause the development of HIV drug resistance. Pharmacists are providing examples through growing research on how they help combat medication-related errors and also continue to contribute as healthcare providers as a part of a holistic healthcare team.
To determine the individual- and neighborhood-level predictors of frequent non-prescription in-pharmacy counseling.
130 pharmacies registered in the Expanded Syringe Access Program (ESAP) in New York City.
477 pharmacists, non-pharmacist owner/managers, and technicians/clerks.
Main outcome measures
Frequent counseling on medical conditions, health insurance, and other products.
Technicians were less likely than pharmacists to provide frequent counseling on medical conditions or health insurance. In terms of neighborhood-level characteristics, pharmacies in areas of high employment disability were less likely to provide frequent health insurance counseling and pharmacies in areas with higher deprivation were more likely to provide counseling on other products.
ESAP pharmacy staff is a frequent source of non-prescription counseling for their patients/customers in disadvantaged neighborhoods of NYC. These findings suggest that ESAP pharmacy staff may be amenable to providing relevant counseling services to injection drug using syringe customers and warrants further investigation.
Expanded Syringe Access Program; in-pharmacy counseling; injection drug users; expanded services; New York City