Peterson, GM and Bergin, J and Nelson, B and Stanton, L, Improving drug use in rheumatic disorders, Journal of Clinical Pharmacy and Therapeutics, 21, (4) pp. 215-220. ISSN 1365-2710 (1996) [Refereed Article]
A recent study concluded that approximately 50 elderly people are admitted to the major teaching hospital in Tasmania, Australia each year suffering from gastrointestinal bleeding related to the use of nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs). The aim of this study was to examine whether academic detailing, designed to encourage a rational approach to the prescribing of NSAIDs and performed by a pharmacist, could modify prescribing practices in the community. The intervention was conducted in Southern Tasmania, using the north of the state as a control area. The target group of all general practitioners (approximately 250) working in Southern Tasmania was sent educational material designed to assist in the appropriate prescribing of NSAIDs. A pharmacist then visited each general practitioner and discussed the rational use of NSAIDs directly with them. The outcome of the programme was measured using evaluation feedback from the general practitioners and pharmacoepidemiological data provided by (i) a state-wide pharmacoepidemiology database derived from community pharmacy records, and (ii) dispensing under the Pharmaceutical Benefits and Repatriation Pharmaceutical Benefits Schemes. The key variable examined was the defined daily dose (DDD) dispensed for the NSAIDs compared with paracetamol. The educational programme was very well received by the general practitioners. Changes in the prescribing of NSAIDs were evident in both study regions, but were more marked in the intervention area. For instance, the state-wide pharmacoepidemiological database indicated that the ratio of dispensed DDDs of NSAIDs: paracetamol declined from 3.00 to 2.59 in the intervention region and remained steadier (3.16 to 2.92) in the north of the state. The improvement was significantly greater in the intervention region. This study has revealed that an educational programme utilizing academic detailing by pharmacists can modify prescribing practices within the community setting.