The New Medicines Service offered as part of the community pharmacy contract in England saved the NHS potentially over £500 million in its first five years.
An economic evaluation of the service, part of the community pharmacy contract in England, indicates that pharmacy interventions to support patients prescribed new medicines improves medicines concordance. This has concomitant quality of life benefits and associated overall cost reductions.
Commenting on the research, DDA chairman Dr Richard West, said: “Evidence-based measures to improve the benefit people get from their medicines are to be welcomed, particularly if they are universally available to all patients, wherever they live.”
Between its launch in 2011 and the end of August 2016, there have been 3.59 million NMS consultations, with over 820,000 in 2015-16. “From the results of this economic evaluation, this suggests £75.4 million short-term savings to the NHS, £517.6 million long-term cost savings to the NHS and 179,500 QALYs gained,” said the researchers.
The NMS is targeted at specific conditions – asthma/COPD, type 2 diabetes, hypertension or antiplatelet/anticoagulant treatment. Researchers based at Manchester, Nottingham and London Universities “simulated the effect of observed adherence increases on patient outcomes and NHS cost by designing economic models for each drug–disease pair study.”
They concluded: “Our study suggests that the NMS increased patient medicine adherence compared with normal practice, which translated into increased health gain at reduced overall cost.”
Sue Sharpe, PSNC Chief Executive, commented: “With the current pressures on the NHS it is vital to use community pharmacists to help support GPs and other parts of the health care system, using their expertise in medicines and the relationship they have with their patients.”
At the Royal Pharmaceutical Society, Sandra Gidley, Chair of RPS England, has called for the list of medicines covered by the service to now be extended to cover all long-term conditions including mental health issues.
Previous University of Nottingham research estimated that non-adherence costs NHS England over £930 million per year for five diseases: asthma, type 2 diabetes, high cholesterol/coronary heart disease, hypertension and schizophrenia.
“We’d also like to see more patients referred into the service by primary or secondary care providers to ensure the service is used as widely as possible. All patients prescribed new medication should be encouraged to take part in the New Medicine Service by their prescriber,” said Ms Gidley.