The NPS MedicineWise Evaluation report released this week has confirmed the vital importance of community pharmacies in improving medicines compliance, the Guild says.
As frontline medication experts, committed to the quality use of medicines, community pharmacists hold the key to improving the medication adherence rates of patients, leading to better health outcomes and health budget savings, it says.
The NPS MedicineWise Evaluation report found that non-adherence to medicines is a major health care cost and quality issue. It found 37% of consumers surveyed in 2014 reported they always, often or sometimes forget to take medicines, and around 25% take less medicine than instructed by their prescriber.
“Community pharmacists are qualified to ensure medicines are taken as intended by the prescriber, and that side effects are managed, so that the maximum health benefits are derived from the community’s investment in subsidised medicines,” says national president of the Pharmacy Guild, George Tambassis.
“We need to recognise that supporting community pharmacies to continue doing this work is a very good investment in our health system.”
As the NPS MedicineWise report has confirmed, medication adherence rates in Australia are relatively low and this leads to poor health outcomes, preventable hospitalisations and unnecessary increased health care costs.
“Regardless of why a person does not take their medicine as intended, medicine non-compliance can cause serious health problems. Put simply, medicines don’t work for people that don’t take them,” Tambassis says.
The Guild highlighted ways in which pharmacists improve medicines compliance, such as for the more than 200,000 consumers who live at home and have their medicines provided packed in a Dose Administration Aid on a weekly basis. People that most benefit from a DAA service are those who are on a number of long-term medicines for chronic health conditions and likely have unintentional non-adherence – for example, unintentionally forgetting to take their medicine, or forgetting that they have taken it and taking an extra dose, the Guild says.
The NPS MedicineWise results indicate that there is great need for this service – and the range of other medication management and support services that community pharmacies provide – to be expanded.
Community pharmacies want to continue this work, and build on it – but to do so they must remain viable and services that have been provided by community pharmacies to consumers free, or below cost, will need to be properly funded, the Guild says.
“The Guild is seeking a new Community Pharmacy Agreement with the Federal Government which supports Australia’s network of 5,450 community pharmacies so that they continue delivering their important primary health care services, and medication management role,” Tambassis says.