01 Sep 2017   |   News   |   UK

UK: Pharmacy service improves drug adherence and could save the health service £517.6M

A scheme launched in 2011 to help patients stick to their drug regimens has been so successful that in its first five years it saved the National Health Service in England £75.4 million, and will save £517.6m in the longer-term

Lead researcher, Rachel Elliott of Manchester University says the New Medicine Service (NMS), a free scheme where community pharmacists help patients with compliance, has improved medicines adherence by 10 per cent.

Pharmacists are paid £24.60 each time they look after a patient as part of NMS. The team used self-reported adherence at 10 weeks and considered the minimum time required to demonstrate behavioural change in a sample of 503 patients.

“Our study suggests NMS increased patient medicine adherence compared with normal practice, which translated into increased health gain at reduced overall cost,” Elliott said. “This is a simple intervention which has been popular with community pharmacists and patients, and is transferable into most therapeutic areas.”

From inception of the NMS to the end of August 2016, 3.59 million consultations have been claimed for, of which over 820,000 took place in 2015/16.

Of 11,495 community pharmacies in England, 91.2 per cent had delivered the NMS to at least one patient between November 2011 and January 2014.

Non-adherence is common in diseases such as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease where only 33 per cent of patients continue their drugs after 10 weeks, schizophrenia, where the figure is 52 per cent, asthma 67 per cent; and diabetes 78 per cent.

According to previous research, the cost to NHS England of non-adherence is over £930 million per year in just five diseases: asthma, type II diabetes, high cholesterol/coronary heart disease, hypertension and schizophrenia.

The result is reduced quality of life, increased hospitalisations and premature deaths.

The Pharmaceutical Journal, Vol 299, 7904. DOI: 10.1211/PJ.2017.20203374

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