June 13, 2012

Pharmacist Counseling Improves Adherence With
High-Cholesterol Medications

Deerfield, ILFace-to-face counseling sessions with a community pharmacist led to better medication adherence for patients beginning statin treatment, according to a new study sponsored by Walgreens.

The study, "The impact of pharmacist face-to-face counseling to improve medication adherence among patients initiating statin therapy," was published recently in the online journal, Patient Preference and Adherence.

For the study, researchers followed a group of more than 2,000 patients new to statin therapy for 12 months. After inclusion and exclusion criteria were applied, 586 patients received counseling from pharmacists trained in brief motivational therapy. The pharmacists addressed barriers to adherence for statin patients, such as perceptions of the value of the therapy, fear of side effects, and simple forgetfulness or establishing a routine to take medication.

At 12 months, the intervention group had an average adherence of 61.8% and the comparison group of 516 patients had 56.9%, the study reports. While 40.9% of the group receiving counseling reached 80% adherence, only 33.7% of the comparison group achieved that goal.

"This study demonstrates the power of face-to-face pharmacist interactions," said Jeff Kang, MD, Walgreens senior vice president of health and wellness services and solutions. "Just two sessions focused on barriers to adherence for patients taking a new medicine for high cholesterol helped them establish a routine for adhering to their treatment. As a result, these patients potentially improved their long-term health outcomes."

The study points out that nonadherence to medication therapy is a common problem for patients with chronic conditions, noting estimates that more than 25% of patients in the United States are nonadherent with their prescribed medications. The annual cost of nonadherence was estimated at $290 billion, according to the study background.

U.S. Pharmacist Social Connect