IPU New Medicine Service Pilot Programme – Findings Launched

  • New Medicine Service (NMS) would mean more effective medicine-taking, improve patients’ health outcomes and reduce health budget
  • Pharmacist-led service has positive effect on patient adherence for 85% of patients

5 December 2017: A new pharmacist-led programme, called a New Medicine Service (NMS), can improve adherence to medicines for people who have been newly prescribed medicines for certain long-term conditions or therapies (such as asthma, COPD, Type 2 diabetes, hypertension, antiplatelet/anticoagulant therapy, statin therapy and chronic pain) and has the potential to:

  • Ensure much more effective medicine-taking;
  • Improve patients’ health outcomes; and
  • Bring savings in the health budget.

Details of how a New Medicine Service would operate in Ireland were outlined today at the launch of a report by the Irish Pharmacy Union on a pilot NMS programme conducted by 79 pharmacists, and involving 394 patients, across Ireland earlier this year. The pilot study was supported with an educational grant from Pfizer Healthcare Ireland.

Speaking at the launch of the report on the pilot programme, the President of the Irish Pharmacy Union (IPU), Daragh Connolly, said that official Irish data suggested that, by 2020, around 40% of the adult population in Ireland would have a chronic disease. He also noted that the Sláintecare Report by the Oireachtas Committee on the Future of Healthcare had recommended the delivery of healthcare at the lowest level of complexity, in a safe and efficient manner for patients, and with a strong focus on medicines management.

He also cited the report, Future Pharmacy Practice in Ireland – Meeting Patients’ Needs, published in 2016 by pharmacy regulator the Pharmaceutical Society of Ireland, which recommended that pharmacists should provide a structured education and adherence programme for newly diagnosed chronic disease patients in order to improve adherence and their health outcomes.

Referring to the findings of the IPU pilot, Mr Connolly – a pharmacist based in Dungarvan, Co Waterford – said it showed that the pharmacist-led intervention “resulted in a positive effect on patient adherence for a total of 85% of all patients in the pilot; 77% of patients achieved a 9% improvement in adherence and 8% were referred back to their GP. I believe these findings support the roll-out nationally of an appropriately funded New Medicine Service”.

The results also provided information on barriers to implementation of such a service, he said, linked mainly to lack of time and staffing issues, alongside a lack of patient information and indications for new medicines they were prescribed.

Also speaking at the launch of the report on the NMS Pilot, the Medical Director of Pfizer, Dr Declan O’Callaghan, said, “Pfizer Healthcare Ireland was delighted to support this important programme undertaken by the IPU. While significant resources are directed to patient care in Ireland, the desired outcomes are not always achieved and one reason for this is poor drug adherence. The value of drug adherence can be seen in the unnecessary costs that are often incurred, and the opportunities to advance public health that are lost, when medicines are not taken for their full prescribed course. We look forward to observing how the findings of the report could be applied in a national setting under a New Medicine Service.”

Another speaker, Dr Gerry Molloy, School of Psychology, NUI Galway, said, “Many people with chronic health problems unnecessarily end up in our struggling A&E departments because they did not take their medications as originally prescribed. A major reason for this is that there is limited support available to people with taking their medications. This is particularly needed when people have been prescribed multiple medications for different health conditions. New strategies to provide structured ongoing support within the context of community pharmacy have the potential to improve the long-term management of chronic diseases. This could reduce the likelihood of many people experiencing the ordeal that is a prolonged visit to the A&E, and reduce the associated unnecessary healthcare costs that are crippling our public health service.”

The report published today details the findings of the NMS pilot programme, in particular the complexity and nature of the consultations that underpin it, in terms of patient engagement, age range, advice-giving and support, as well as examining the level of acceptability to stakeholders, along with reasons for success – or lack of success – and its feasibility within the service delivery environment.

Economic analysis of a similar service which has operated in the UK since 2011 has found that it offers the NHS increased health gain at reduced overall cost, and provides short-term savings of £75.4 million and long-term savings of £517.6 million.

Further information:

Jim Curran, IPU Director of Communications & Strategy, 086 264 0469


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