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Report Reveals Disparities in Pharmaceutical Treatment for Minority Patients
Date:5/12/2009

and in determining the scope of drug substitution policies. The report emphasizes that therapy must be tailored to individual needs and stereotyping and overgeneralization in caring for diverse populations should be avoided.

Dr. Levy, a health care consultant and former vice president of the National Pharmaceutical Council, states: "Differences in response to pharmaceuticals in minority populations indicate the importance of including diverse groups in comparative-effectiveness assessments. Failure to do so may reduce, rather than improve, the quality of care for ethnic and racial minorities".

Key Findings from the Report

  • Many studies have revealed ethnic/racial disparities in prescribing (under-prescribing, over-prescribing or mis-prescribing) for specific diseases or classes of medication, including medications for asthma, depression, psychosis, cardiovascular disease, diabetes, pain and infectious disease.
  • Medication disparities can stem from a relative lack of health and drug insurance, aggressive cost containment in pharmacy benefits plans and reduced services at pharmacies in minority neighborhoods. All of these situations can limit access to medications or cause patients to reduce or discontinue therapy.
  • Most state Medicaid programs utilize pharmaceutical cost containment polices which include prior authorization, generic substitution, preferred drug lists, copayments and caps. While fulfilling their intent to save drug costs, these policies may have the unintended consequences of limiting access to necessary medications. This limitation has been associated with increased utilization of medical services by minority patients.
  • Suboptimal prescribing may reflect a clinician's lack of knowledge about the patient's culture or to the clinician's beliefs about that culture. Clinicians who have that knowledge and who communicate well can
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SOURCE National Minority Quality Forum
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