Inside This Issue - News
Pharmacy advocates tout MTMís potential
June 29th, 2009
WASHINGTON – Medication therapy management (MTM) offers an opportunity for pharmacy to be an integral part of health care reform. That was the message at a congressional briefing this month from pharmacy experts and advocates.
MTM can raise the quality of health care while making it more accessible and affordable, said National Association of Chain Drug Stores senior vice president and chief pharmacist Edith Rosato, who moderated the briefing.
Pharmacists practicing MTM — which the federal government called for six years ago in the Medicare Modernization and Improvement Act — can be advocates for patients while supporting a community structure for them, she said.
Poor compliance with chronic disease medication costs an estimated $47 billion each year in drug-related hospitalizations and causes as many as 40% of admissions to nursing homes, Rosato noted.
Rep. Dave Loebsack (D., Iowa) told of a patient who had been hospitalized four to six times annually for several years. When a pharmacist changed his prescriptions to unit doses, the patient subsequently avoided hospitalization for nine months.
Elizabeth Chrischilles, professor of epidemiology and pharmacy at the University of Iowa, said the average Iowa senior takes five prescription and three over-the-counter medications.
She told how her mother-in-law’s medication for chronic pain caused constipation. To relieve that side effect, she cut back on the medication, but that left her in too much pain to move, and she weakened until she fell and broke her hip. Treating the hip fracture cost $27,000. That could have been avoided, Chrischilles said, if her mother-in-law had been told to relieve her pain between prescription doses with acetaminophen tablets — at a cost of 1.2 cents apiece — or told about an inexpensive bowel management program.
Lawrence Brown, associate professor at the University of Tennessee College of Pharmacy, noted that when the 2003 Medicare legislation was being drafted, pharmacists pointed out that it was counterproductive to give seniors greater access to medications without MTM.
“That same argument applies to current health care reform efforts,” he declared. “Patients need pharmacists to be their medication coach — not only to prevent and address drug therapy problems but also to save billions of health care dollars.”