Reporter 426, 2 November 1998

Cure for repeating problem?

Wasteful and potentially dangerous repeat prescriptions of medicines by pharmacists are to be reviewed in a major new study, involving some 200 elderly people, in the School of Healthcare Studies.

Repeat prescriptions account for over three-quarters of all prescribing, and are handed over with no consultation between the patient and GP.

The research team, led by Dr Theo Raynor and Dr Arnold Zermansky, will examine the role a suitably qualified pharmacist can play in this process by assessing the patient’s condition and making recommendations about future medication.

“While pharmacists may lack the breadth of pathological knowledge and clinical skills of doctors, these might not be necessary to provide what would be in effect a screening process for patients on apparently stable drug regimens,” said Dr Raynor.

Elderly people are more likely to suffer from inappropriate repeat prescriptions. The two-year study will involve over 1200 people over 65 in four or five local medical practices. A group of patients will have the suitability of their repeat prescriptions assessed by pharmacists and the remaining control group will be subject to the normal review processes.

The researchers will then compare the extent, quality and cost-effectiveness of the clinical control of the repeat prescribing. The project has received £130,000 of NHS funding.

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