Lives could be saved with pharmacy based chronic disease management programme

  • Frustration at lack of support for community pharmacy sector

World Pharmacists Day – 25 September 2019: The Irish Pharmacy Union (IPU) has said that a collaborative approach to chronic disease management could save lives in Ireland. Speaking to mark World Pharmacy Day, community pharmacist and IPU Executive Committee member Caitriona O’Riordan said that the “evidence of the benefits of the community pharmacy sector is clear, but the ambitions of Government is sadly not”.

Explaining the proposal for a chronic disease management services Ms O’Riordan said “Many people in Ireland live with the reality of chronic illnesses. The effective management of these can have profound impact on people’s health. Doing so in an efficient and convenient manner can also significantly improve quality of life and reduce the stress of such conditions. The clinical benefits of pharmacy involvement in chronic disease management are compelling and we have long advocated for a collaborative approach between community pharmacists, GPs and practice nurses.”

Citing the example of hypertension Caitriona O’Riordan said: “Over €1.36 billion euro could be saved by the state over thirty years if a pharmacy-based blood pressure management service was rolled out. More importantly this would avoid over 70,000 cardiovascular events.”

“Earlier this month a study by Imperial College London published in the Lancet highlighted that Ireland has among the highest levels of high blood pressure in the developed world, but very worryingly we also have among the lowest diagnosis rates. These are warning signs we cannot afford to ignore any more.”

Providing an example of where the expansion of pharmacy services has been successfully delivered in Ireland O’Riordan said: “Since Irish pharmacists first started vaccinating in 2011, flu vaccine deliveries have increased overall by 48%. Pharmacists now represent 15% of all flu vaccinations, with a 99% public satisfaction rate. We now want to deliver similar result in other areas of patient care.”

“Sláintecare Report recommends the use of all available mechanisms and processes to ensure healthcare is delivered at the lowest level of complexity and is safe, efficient and good for patients. It further recommends that priority is given to health promotion and preventative care, and that there is a strong focus on medicines management.”

“There are currently over 1,900 community pharmacies nationwide ready to play their part in making Sláintecare a success. However, in spite of many promises there is little evidence the Government is taking the simple steps necessary to empower pharmacists to do more and help save patients’ lives. This needs to change,” concluded Caitriona O’Riordan, Executive Committee member of the Irish Pharmacy Union.