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The community pharmacist plays a key role in the adherence to osteoarthritis treatment

29 May 2014

It is estimated that over 50% of OA patients do not follow the treatment prescribed to them. Pharmacotherapeutical follow-up, healthcare awareness and involvement of pharmacists, are key to achieve a better monitoring of these chronic patients. These are some of the key teachings of the first OA workshop held during the National Congress of the Spanish Society of Community Pharmacy which was attended by some 100 professionals.

Malaga, May 23, 2014. “Local pharmacists play a key role in the adherence to OA treatment, and, therefore, in improving control of that disease”, explained Jose Alba, pharmacist and coordinator of the first OA workshop held within the 6th National Congress of the Spanish Society of Community Pharmacy (SEFAC), with the collaboration of Bioberica Farma.

It is currently estimated that OA affects 10% of the population, and that more than half of these chronic patients did not follow their treatment. “In knee OA cases, not following the treatment will probably result in the need for prosthetic surgery, a traumatic solution for patients and highly expensive for our National Health System,” Alba pointed out.

The OA workshop had a novel format: it was taught by a community pharmacist and by a physician. Its aim was to improve the health of OA patients, by involving active pharmacy professionals, physicians or specialists, and patients. “We should strengthen the relationship between physicians, pharmacists and patients, for all three are key for the control of this disease”, he affirmed.

The experience has shown that patients benefit from greater involvement by the local pharmacist. The workshop emphasized the need for identifying the causes of lack of adherence, in order to personalize treatment and to strengthen the relationship with patients. When intervening, on the one hand, we need to provide patients with information to educate him or her (proper use of prospects, importance of treatment, etc.); while on the other hand, we must also provide him with written support information. Furthermore, at the same time, we should monitor our patients, making sure that the treatment is safe and effective.

The pharmacy model is now evolving towards an assistance model, as demanded by pharmacy professionals and patients alike, thus giving way to better monitoring of chronic patients, reducing lack of adherence to treatment and reducing the costs that poor adherence might bring to the National Health System.

In this regard, the president of the SEFAC, Jesús C. Gómez, highlighted that community pharmacists are the most efficient for monitoring chronic patients because, “we are easier to reach, we are always near the patient, and, therefore, the public administration should facilitate our job by making us part of their treatment adherence plans”.