Clinical Pharmacy Services Impact Rx Spending & Healthcare Costs

Clinical pharmacy services can significantly help curb prescription drug spending and other healthcare costs, according to a new study. According to the University of Illinois at Chicago, for every dollar spent by hospitals and health systems to provide clinical pharmacy services, $4.81 was saved by the resulting lower drug costs, reductions in adverse drug events and medication errors, and other savings. The researchers examined 93 studies on clinical pharmacy services from 2001 through 2005. “This is pretty consistent with the savings we have seen in previous years. Over time, regardless of the kind of clinical pharmacy services or the patients served … you see this savings,” said Glen Schumock, a senior author of the study and director of UIC’s Center for Pharmacoeconomic Research. Most of the studies took place in hospital pharmacies. However, many were also conducted in ambulatory care clinics, physicians’ offices, and in community pharmacies. “A higher proportion of these studies are coming from settings other than hospitals in recent years. It shows that other facilities are offering these services,” Schumock said. The services in the study included general pharmacotherapeutic monitoring services, target drug programs, and disease state management services. In nearly 70 percent of the studies (about half of the 93 were studied by the researchers because of their economic focus), a positive economic benefit was associated with clinical pharmacy services. Most of the savings resulted from direct medical costs, such as lower drug costs and lessening patients’ hospital stays or doctor visits.