MEDICAL EXPRESS – If pharmacists had a larger role in prescribing medications to control blood pressure, they could prevent more than 15 million heart attacks, nearly 8 million strokes and more than 4 million cases each of angina and heart failure in the U.S. over 30 years.
That’s according to a new Virginia Commonwealth University-led study.
The study, “Cost-Effectiveness of Pharmacist Prescribing for Managing Hypertension in the United States,” which is published today in JAMA Network Open, details how pharmacists’ ability to treat patients with hypertension directly could have both a positive impact on Americans’ health and quality of life and a significant economic impact on the U.S. health care system.
The study is among the first to explore the economics of pharmacist prescribing to improve blood pressure control.
The research team, led by corresponding author Dave Dixon, Pharm.D., of the VCU School of Pharmacy, found that the U.S. health care system could save more than $1.1 trillion over 30 years, a cost savings of $10,162 per patient.
“More than 95% of Americans live within 5 miles of a community pharmacy, a 2022 study in the Journal of the American Pharmacists Association found.”
Moreover, the study’s authors found that over 30 years, patients could regain more than 30 million “quality-adjusted life years,” or years where their quality of life is significantly higher than it would have been if they were to have a health emergency.
Dixon, the Nancy L. and Ronald H. McFarlane Professor of Pharmacy and chair of the Department of Pharmacotherapy and Outcomes Science at the VCU School of Pharmacy, said these findings support measures that could increase access to care for millions across the country.
Dixon, who serves as a core faculty member and former director of the Center for Pharmacy Practice Innovation at the VCU School of Pharmacy, said:
“Being that hypertension affects so many Americans—we’re talking about over 100 million people in the U.S.—I think the impact is tremendous because everybody knows somebody with high blood pressure,”
“It’s one of the leading causes of heart disease and kidney failure in the world … “