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1.  Protocol for the New Medicine Service Study: a randomized controlled trial and economic evaluation with qualitative appraisal comparing the effectiveness and cost effectiveness of the New Medicine Service in community pharmacies in England 
Trials  2013;14:411.
Background
Medication non-adherence is considered an important cause of morbidity and mortality in primary care. This study aims to determine the effectiveness, cost effectiveness and acceptability of a complex intervention delivered by community pharmacists, the New Medicine Service (NMS), compared with current practice in reducing non-adherence to, and problems with, newly prescribed medicines for chronic conditions.
Methods/design
Research subject group: patients aged 14 years and above presenting in a community pharmacy for a newly prescribed medicine for asthma/chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD); hypertension; type 2 diabetes or anticoagulant/antiplatelet agents in two geographical regions in England.
Design: parallel group patient-level pragmatic randomized controlled trial.
Interventions: patients randomized to either: (i) current practice; or (ii) NMS intervention comprising pharmacist-delivered support for a newly prescribed medicine.
Primary outcomes: proportion of adherent patients at six, ten and 26 weeks from the date of presenting their prescriptions at the pharmacy; cost effectiveness of the intervention versus current practice at 10 weeks and 26 weeks; in-depth qualitative understanding of the operationalization of NMS in pharmacies.
Secondary outcomes: impact of NMS on: patients’ understanding of their medicines, pharmacovigilance, interprofessional and patient-professional relationships and experiences of service users and stakeholders.
Economic analysis: Trial-based economic analysis (cost per extra adherent patient) and long-term modeling of costs and health effects (cost per quality-adjusted-life-year) will be conducted from the perspective of National Health Service (NHS) England, comparing NMS with current practice.
Qualitative analysis: a qualitative study of NMS implementation in different community settings, how organizational influences affect NMS delivery, patterns of NMS consultations and experiences of professionals and patients participating in NMS, and patients receiving current practice.
Sample size: 250 patients in each treatment arm would provide at least 80% power (two-tailed alpha of 0.05) to demonstrate a reduction in patient-reported non-adherence from 20% to 10% in the NMS arm compared with current practice, assuming a 20% drop-out rate.
Discussion
At the time of submission of this article, 58 community pharmacies have been recruited and the interventions are being delivered. Analysis has not yet been undertaken.
Trial registration
Current controlled trials: ISRCTN23560818
Clinical Trials US (clinicaltrials.gov): NCT01635361
doi:10.1186/1745-6215-14-411
PMCID: PMC4220816  PMID: 24289059
2.  Medicines use reviews: a potential resource or lost opportunity for general practice? 
BMC Family Practice  2013;14:57.
Background
Patient non-adherence to medicines represents a significant waste of health resource and lost opportunity for health gain. Medicine management services are a key health policy strategy to encourage patients to take medicines as they are prescribed. One such service is the English Medicines Use Review (MUR) which is an NHS-funded community pharmacy service involving a patient-pharmacist consultation aiming to improve patients’ knowledge of medicines and their use. To date the evidence for MURs to improve patient health outcomes is equivocal and GPs are reported to be sceptical about the value of the service. This paper presents the patient’s perspective of the MUR service and focuses on the importance of GP-pharmacist collaboration for patient care. Suggestions on how MURs may have value to GPs through the delivery of increased patient benefit are discussed.
Method
A qualitative study involving ten weeks of ethnographic observations in two English community pharmacies. Observations were made of all pharmacy activities including patient-pharmacist MUR consultations. Subsequent interviews with these patients were conducted to explore their experience of the service. Interviews with the pharmacy staff were conducted after the period of observations. A thematic approach was used to analyse the data.
Results
Fifty-four patients agreed to have their MUR observed of which thirty-four were interviewed. Seventeen pharmacy staff were also interviewed. Patients reported positive views about MURs. However, there was little evidence suggesting that pharmacists and GPs were working collaboratively or communicating outcomes resulting from MURs. MURs were conducted in isolation from other aspects of patient care. Patients considered GPs to have authority over medicines making a few wary that MURs had the potential to cause tensions between these professionals and possibly adversely affect their own relationship with their doctor.
Conclusions
This study reveals the potential for effective GP-pharmacist collaboration to improve the capacity of the MUR service to support patient medicine taking. Closer collaboration between GPs and pharmacists could potentially improve patients’ use of medicines and associated health care outcomes. The current lack of such collaboration constitutes a missed opportunity for pharmacists and GPs to work together with patients to improve effective prescribing and optimise patient use of medicines.
doi:10.1186/1471-2296-14-57
PMCID: PMC3651305  PMID: 23647874
Adherence; Community pharmacy; Cooperative behaviour; General practitioners; Medicines Use Reviews; Patients; Pharmacists
3.  A qualitative study exploring the impact and consequence of the medicines use review service on pharmacy support-staff 
Pharmacy Practice  2013;11(2):118-124.
Background
Pharmacy support-staff (pharmacy technicians, dispensers and Medicines Counter Assistants) support the delivery of pharmaceutical and retail functions of the pharmacy. Workflow is supervised and at times dependent upon the pharmacist’s presence. Policy makers and pharmacy’s representative bodies are seeking to extend the community pharmacist's role including requiring the pharmacist to undertake private consultations away from the dispensary and shop floor areas. However, support-staff voices are seldom heard and little is known about the impact such policies have on them.
Objective
The objective of this study is to explore the impact and consequences of the English Medicine Use Review (MUR) service on pharmacy support-staff.
Methods
Ten weeks of ethnographic-oriented observations in two English community pharmacies and interviews with 5 pharmacists and 12 support-staff. A thematic approach was used to analyse the data.
Results
Despite viewing MURs as a worthwhile activity, interviews with support-staff revealed that some felt frustrated when they were left to explain to patients why the pharmacist was not available when carrying out an MUR. Dependency on the pharmacist to complete professional and accuracy checks on prescriptions grieved dispensing staff because dispensing workflow was disrupted and they could not get their work done. Medicines Counter Assistants were observed to have less dependency when selling medicines but some still reported concerns over of customers and patients waiting for the pharmacist. A range of tacit and ad hoc strategies were consequently found to be deployed to handle situations when the pharmacist was absent performing an MUR.
Conclusions
Consideration should be given to support-staff and pharmacists’ existing work obligations when developing new pharmacy extended roles that require private consultations with patients. Understanding organisational culture and providing adequate resourcing for new services are needed to avoid improvisations or enactments by pharmacy support-staff and to allow successful innovation and policy implementation.
PMCID: PMC3798177  PMID: 24155859
Pharmacists' Aides; Pharmacists; Workflow; Community Pharmacy Services; Drug Utilization Review; Professional Practice; United Kingdom
4.  The contribution of the Medicines Use Review (MUR) consultation to counseling practice in community pharmacies☆ 
Patient Education and Counseling  2011;83(3):336-344.
Objective
To understand the contribution of the Medicines Use Review consultation to counseling practice in community pharmacies.
Methods
Qualitative study involving ten weeks of observations in two community pharmacies and interviews with patients and pharmacy staff.
Results
‘Traditional’ counseling on prescription medicines involved the unilateral transfer of information from pharmacist to patient. Over-the-counter discussions were initiated by patients and offered more scope for patient participation. The recently introduced MUR service offers new opportunities for pharmacists’ role development in counseling patients about their medicines use. However, the study findings revealed that MUR consultations were brief encounters dominated by closed questions, enabling quick and easy completion of the MUR form. Interactions resembled counseling when handing out prescription medicines. Patients rarely asked questions and indeterminate issues were often circumvented by the pharmacist when they did. MURs did little to increase patients’ knowledge and rarely affected medicine use, although some felt reassured about their medicines. Pragmatic constraints of workload and pharmacy organisation undermined pharmacists’ capacity to implement the MUR service effectively.
Conclusion
Pharmacists failed to fully realise the opportunity offered by MURs being constrained by situational pressures.
Practice implications
Pharmacist consultation skills need to be reviewed if MURs are to realise their intended aims.
doi:10.1016/j.pec.2011.05.007
PMCID: PMC3145978  PMID: 21621943
Counseling; Medicines Use Reviews; Patient centred; Patient–pharmacist communication; Pharmacy practice

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