Dispensing changes mean the time is right for pharmacy to play a greater role in mental health, experts believe
Pharmacists have opportunities to greatly increase their role in the care of patients with schizophrenia, a leading researcher believes.
Claire O’Reilly, from the Faculty of Pharmacy at the University of Sydney, says recent changes to the dispensing arrangements for clozapine, along with increased recognition of the role of pharmacists have created space for pharmacy to assume a greater role in schizophrenia care.
More than 30% of people living with schizophrenia say they have experienced discrimination while seeking physical or mental health care and this contributes strongly to a situation where these patients face a range of adverse health outcomes, she says.
These include a 2.5 times greater mortality rate than the general population, a two-fold increased risk of diabetes, unhealthy diet, greater rates of smoking and lower rates of exercise.
“Pharmacist’s roles in mental health care has been well documented and was recently recognised by the National Mental Health Commission in their National Review of Mental Health Programmes and services,” O’Reilly said in an editorial in the Journal of Pharmacy Practice and Research .
This review included “a key recommendation to ‘introduce incentives to include pharmacists as key members of the mental health care team’,” she added.
In addition, she said changes to dispensing arrangements that allow pharmacists to be involved in maintenance therapy for clozapine.
A recent study comparing consumer access to clozapine in Australia, the UK and New Zealand found Australian pharmacists were supportive of the utilisation of pharmacy for the dispensing and supply of clozapine.
“Having community pharmacies supply clozapine provides increased flexibility for the consumer. It provides an increased level of independence in managing mental illness…. ,” one respondent said.
The study was published in the journal Pharmacy Practice.