Pharmacists are Key Players on the Diabetes Team

Diabetes treatment with pharmacist input has positive impact on patient results

March 14, 2013 / Author:  / Reviewed by: Joseph V. Madia, MD

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(dailyRx News) While diabetes patients need a doctor’s care, they can also benefit from a team approach. Pharmacists, with their accessibility and medication expertise, can play a vital role.

With diabetes cases and costs on the rise, there is a need to deliver more intensive diabetes management and support through existing healthcare resources.

A recent investigation found that pharmacists make a positive contribution to outcomes of patients who have type 2 diabetes.

"Consider a pharmacist as part of your diabetes care team. "

Ines Krass, PhD, professor of pharmacy practice at the University of Sydney in Australia, collaborated on research with Teerapon Dhippayom, of the Faculty of Pharmaceutical Sciences at Naresuan University in Phitsanulok, Thailand.

The authors based their study on a total of 17 articles evaluating interventions delivered by a pharmacist either alone or as part of a team.

While the researchers wrote that pharmacists help produce improvements in glycemic (blood sugar) control, their preliminary evidence also suggested that pharmaceutical care for type 2 diabetes can have a positive impact on health-related quality of life.

Their research points to pharmacists having a greater effect on mental rather than physical health.

Mark Newberry, PharmD and owner of Tarrytown Pharmacy Inc. in Austin, Texas, told dailyRx News, “Prescription medications are only part of what a pharmacist can provide. As pharmacist, I consider myself as a first line of defense for my diabetic patients, and I am available seven days per week with no appointment necessary."

"We hope that our patients find it comforting that they always have a trusted professional to answer even the most complex questions regarding their condition.”

Based on evidence from one of the studies in this review (the UK Prospective Diabetes Study), the authors wrote, “The improvement in diabetes control achieved by the pharmacists’ interventions are likely to translate into future cost savings to the health care system by delaying and reducing diabetes-related complications.”

Investigators said that pharmacists have sought to develop an expanded role in diabetes care in recent years.

“There are compelling arguments that support this expanded involvement,” wrote the authors.

“Pharmacists in the community, through regular and less formal contact than that with doctors, are able to build strong relationships with patients and become a reliable source of information. Pharmacists in both community and clinic settings can also have ongoing relationships with other health care providers and can serve as the ‘bridge’ between health care providers and the patients, thus ensuring continuity of care.”

Because medications are an important part of preventing complications of type 2 diabetes, pharmacists can play a key role in ensuring medication effectiveness through “monitoring and supporting adherence and screening for drug-related problems,” according to researchers.

Ultimately, Dr. Krass and Dr. Dhippayom said that evidence of a pharmacist’s impact on health-related quality of life was limited and inconclusive. They called for further research “to bolster the evidence for the impact of pharmaceutical care and pharmacist disease management diabetes services."

This study was published in March in Clinical Audit.