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Walgreens, UCSF Partner on Patient Medication Management

Walgreens Sign

(Phillip Pessar/Flickr)

26 February 2014. The Walgreens pharmacy chain and University of California in San Francisco are collaborating on new pharmacy services that help patients manage medications to improve their overall health. The company and university are testing this new retail model in a Walgreens store located near the UCSF campus, but financial aspects of the arrangement were not disclosed.

The Walgreens at UCSF store is an undertaking of the university’s medical center and pharmacy school, working with the pharmacy chain, and located across the street from the medical center. The store is one of the Walgreens Well Experience locations that includes a walk-in health clinic and more accessible pharmacists, as well as areas for private consultations with providers.

The project aims to address problems arising from the increased number of medications being taken by patients, as well as problems of medication adherence. According to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), some 8 in 10 Americans (82%) take at least one medication, with 3 in 10 (29%) taking five or more medications. Problems with medications leading to adverse drug events result in some 700,000 emergency room visits and 120,000 hospital visits each year. Extra medical costs from adverse drug reactions are estimated by CDC at $3.5 billion each year.

A related problem is the need for patients to keep taking their medications as prescribed. National Consumers League says 3 of 4 Americans do not always adhere to their medication schedules. Some of the potential reasons for this lack of adherence, according to the U.S. Surgeon General, are co-payments, difficulty remembering and managing complex regimens, and poor health literacy.

“Modern medicine has transformed many diseases from urgent, life-threatening conditions into chronic illnesses that can be managed with the right medications,” says Joseph Guglielmo, dean of UCSF’s pharmacy school in a university statement. “But that means more and more patients are juggling multiple prescriptions, with complex instructions, and, in many instances, this complicated medication list is inaccurate and incomplete.”

The campus Walgreens store will provide medication counseling for patients, as well as comprehensive medication reviews, as a standard of care. Pharmacists are expected to help patients create accurate, portable medication lists to take to their health care providers, and keep them up to date. These services aim to decrease drug interactions and encourage patients to take their medications as prescribed.

The expanded role of pharmacists as health care providers is part of a California law that took effect on 1 January 2014. Under that law, pharmacists can perform additional health care services within their profession, such as providing certain medications, monitoring patient health, and adjusting prescriptions if needed.

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