Background: The concept of pharmaceutical care is operationalized through pharmaceutical professional services, which are patient-oriented to optimize their pharmacotherapy and to improve clinical outcomes.
Objective: The objective of this study was to estimate the incremental cost-effectiveness ratio (ICER) of a medication review with follow-up (MRF) service for older adults with polypharmacy in Spanish community pharmacies against the alternative of having their medication dispensed normally.
Methods: The study was designed as a cluster randomized controlled trial, and was carried out over a time horizon of 6 months. The target population was older adults with polypharmacy, defined as individuals taking five or more medicines per day. The study was conducted in 178 community pharmacies in Spain. Cost-utility analysis adopted a health service perspective. Costs were in euros at 2014 prices and the effectiveness of the intervention was estimated as quality-adjusted life-years (QALYs). In order to analyze the uncertainty of ICER results, we performed a non-parametric bootstrapping with 5000 replications.
Results: A total of 1403 older adults, aged between 65 and 94 years, were enrolled in the study: 688 in the intervention group (IG) and 715 in the control group (CG). By the end of the follow-up, both groups had reduced the mean number of prescribed medications they took, although this reduction was greater in the IG (0.28 ± 1.25 drugs; p < 0.001) than in the CG (0.07 ± 0.95 drugs; p = 0.063). Older adults in the IG saw their quality of life improved by 0.0528 ± 0.20 (p < 0.001). In contrast, the CG experienced a slight reduction in their quality of life: 0.0022 ± 0.24 (p = 0.815). The mean total cost was <euro>977.57 ± 1455.88 for the IG and <euro>1173.44 ± 3671.65 for the CG. In order to estimate the ICER, we used the costs adjusted for baseline medications and QALYs adjusted for baseline utility score, resulting in a mean incremental total cost of -<euro>250.51 ± 148.61 (95 % CI -541.79 to 40.76) and a mean incremental QALY of 0.0156 ± 0.004 (95 % CI 0.008-0.023). Regarding the results from the cost-utility analysis, the MRF service emerged as the dominant strategy.
Conclusion: The MRF service is an effective intervention for optimizing prescribed medication and improving quality of life in older adults with polypharmacy in community pharmacies. The results from the cost-utility analysis suggest that the MRF service is cost effective.