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Pharmacy Care Program Can Increase Medication Adherence in Elderly

Elderly patients will adhere more closely to their medication regimens if they have the benefit of a comprehensive pharmacy// care program that includes patient education, specially packaged medications, and pharmacy follow-up, according to a study.

The “Federal Study of Adherence to Medications in the Elderly (FAME) Study,” funded by the American Society of Health-System Pharmacists (ASHP) Research and Education Foundation, followed 200 elderly patients aged 65 or older who were taking at least four medications for chronic conditions. The 14-month study tested the effectiveness of a comprehensive pharmacy care program in improving medication adherence and its associated effects on blood pressure and low-density lipoprotein cholesterol. All patients were seen at either Walter Reed Army Medical Center or at the Geriatric Pharmacy Clinic in the Armed Forces Retirement Home in Washington, D.C.

“Elderly patients are at risk for medication adherence problems because most have multiple diseases, some of which are asymptomatic, such as high blood pressure,” states principal investigator Jeannie Kim Lee, Pharm.D., a clinical pharmacist at Walter Reed Army Medical Center. “They also are at risk because they often have complex medication regimens. They might stop taking medications because they don’t feel any differently or because they cannot remember what the medications are for or when to take them. This can result in all sorts of health problems that lead to emergency department visits, hospitalizations, and increased health care costs.”

During the FAME Study, Lee and her team spent 2 months assessing patients for baseline medication adherence as well as LDL-cholesterol and blood pressure measurements. Patients then began Phase 1, a 6-month period during which they saw a clinical pharmacist for disease and medication education and were provided with blister-packed cards that organized their medications according to their individual dai
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