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29-05-2013 | Respiratory | Article

Community pharmacists help optimize COPD treatment


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medwireNews: Data from Japan show that the introduction of an educational program allowing community pharmacists to deliver inhaler technique training to patients with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) led to improved adherence and outcomes.

Since its introduction in 2007, pharmacists from 70% of 81 community pharmacies in northern Osaka have been certified through the "A network system for providing proper inhalation technique" (NEPPIT) program.

They received information on the pathophysiology of asthma and COPD, inhaled medications, technique, and adherence, as well as training in the correct use of each device, and were encouraged to instruct patients on proper inhaler technique at least every 6 months.

Among 51 patients enrolled after their pharmacist completed the NEPPIT intervention, the frequency of COPD exacerbations was significantly lower compared with 55 patients enrolled before the intervention, at 0.8 versus 1.5 per year.

And, adherence to therapy, as measured by the Self-Reported Medication Adherence Questionnaire, also significantly improved with average scores rising to 4.4 out of 5.0 after the intervention, compared with 4.1 before. The authors note that the 76% of patients who regularly attended a certified pharmacy after the introduction of the intervention also had greater adherence at 4.6 compared with 3.9 among patients who attended a noncertified pharmacy.

However, quality of life, according to the St George Respiratory Questionnaire, did not significantly differ between the two groups of patients.

Writing in the International Journal of COPD, authors Masaya Takemura (Tazuke Kofukai Medical Research Institute, Osaka) and colleagues, say that their research adds to a growing body of evidence that pharmacists can enhance outcomes in patients with asthma and COPD.

They previously found that the introduction of NEPPIT resulted in increased therapy adherence in patients with asthma, and a 30% and 60% reduction in the frequency of asthma exacerbations and emergency department visits, respectively.

"Community pharmacists are well positioned to perform medication- and wellness-related interventions that can improve patient outcomes," the authors write.

They conclude: "Further research with a large number of participants is needed to confirm the validity of the NEPPIT system."

medwireNews ( is an independent clinical news service provided by Springer Healthcare Limited. © Springer Healthcare Ltd; 2013

By Kirsty Oswald, medwireNews Reporter

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