Pharmacist-Led Education Can Reduce Inappropriate Prescriptions, Study Finds

February 6, 2019

Canadian researchers say pharmacists can help elderly patients reduce the number of inappropriate prescriptions they’re taking through consumer-targeted education. In a University of Montreal study published late last year in JAMA, pharmacists were encouraged to send patients an educational deprescribing brochure and send their physicians a pharmaceutical opinion recommending deprescribing. Patients in the control group received normal treatment without these interventions.

The study was conducted among 498 patients over the age of 65 using 69 community pharmacies in Quebec. Each patient was taking one of four specified Beers Criteria medications: sedative-hypnotics, first-generation antihistamines, glyburide, or nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs. By definition, Beers Criteria drugs are potentially inappropriate for use in older adults.

Within six months, 43 percent of patients who’d received the brochures had discontinued the inappropriate medication. Just 12 percent of patients who didn’t receive the brochures discontinued the inappropriate medication within the same time span.

“We first asked primary care providers what information they needed to safely deprescribe patients’ medications,” Dr. Cara Tannenbaum, a professor of medicine and pharmacy at the University of Montreal and director of the Canadian Deprescribing Network, told the New York Times. “Based on the physicians’ answers, we provided pharmacists with a template on how best to communicate the evidence about deprescribing to physicians. When pharmacists equipped patients with the same information, applied specifically to medications the patient had been taking for a while, everyone was on board and keen to initiate a conversation.”

Read the JAMA article.