Cost-effectiveness of a community pharmacist intervention in patients with depression: a randomized controlled trial (PRODEFAR Study)

PLoS One. 2013 Aug 12;8(8):e70588. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0070588. eCollection 2013.


Background: Non-adherence to antidepressants generates higher costs for the treatment of depression. Little is known about the cost-effectiveness of pharmacist's interventions aimed at improving adherence to antidepressants. The study aimed to evaluate the cost-effectiveness of a community pharmacist intervention in comparison with usual care in depressed patients initiating treatment with antidepressants in primary care.

Methods: Patients were recruited by general practitioners and randomized to community pharmacist intervention (87) that received an educational intervention and usual care (92). Adherence to antidepressants, clinical symptoms, Quality-Adjusted Life-Years (QALYs), use of healthcare services and productivity losses were measured at baseline, 3 and 6 months.

Results: There were no significant differences between groups in costs or effects. From a societal perspective, the incremental cost-effectiveness ratio (ICER) for the community pharmacist intervention compared with usual care was €1,866 for extra adherent patient and €9,872 per extra QALY. In terms of remission of depressive symptoms, the usual care dominated the community pharmacist intervention. If willingness to pay (WTP) is €30,000 per extra adherent patient, remission of symptoms or QALYs, the probability of the community pharmacist intervention being cost-effective was 0.71, 0.46 and 0.75, respectively (societal perspective). From a healthcare perspective, the probability of the community pharmacist intervention being cost-effective in terms of adherence, QALYs and remission was of 0.71, 0.76 and 0.46, respectively, if WTP is €30,000.

Conclusion: A brief community pharmacist intervention addressed to depressed patients initiating antidepressant treatment showed a probability of being cost-effective of 0.71 and 0.75 in terms of improvement of adherence and QALYs, respectively, when compared to usual care. Regular implementation of the community pharmacist intervention is not recommended.

Trial registration: NCT00794196.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Antidepressive Agents / economics*
  • Antidepressive Agents / therapeutic use
  • Cost-Benefit Analysis*
  • Depression / drug therapy
  • Depression / economics*
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Health Care Costs
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Medication Adherence
  • Middle Aged
  • Pharmacies*
  • Pharmacists*
  • Primary Health Care / economics
  • Quality-Adjusted Life Years
  • Risk Factors


  • Antidepressive Agents

Associated data


Grants and funding

Funding for this study was provided by Carlos III Health Institute Grant (Spanish Ministry of Health and Consumer Affairs) (FIS PI070546). MRV had a personal grant from the “Fundació Universitària Agustí Pedro i Pons” (University of Barcelona) for a stay at the Vrije University of Amsterdam to work on the results presented in the present paper. ASB is grateful to the AGAUR for a grant (ref 2010-BE-00055) that financed a stay at the Centre for the Economics of Mental and Physical Health (Institute of Psychiatry, King's Collegue London). The funders had no role in study design, data collection and analysis, decision to publish, or preparation of the manuscript.