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Pharmacist-led pain management ‘more costly’ than standard GP treatment



Pharmacist-led management of chronic pain is ‘more costly’ than when done by GPs, a study has shown.

In a randomised controlled trial, including 125 patients in three GP practices in Grampian and three in East Anglia, researchers compared GP-led ‘treatment as usual’ with pharmacist-led interventions.

Although the study indicated no worse outcomes with regards to lifespan or life quality for patients, the pharmacy-based treatment model cost £77.50 more per patient for prescribing and £54.50 more for medication review when patients were followed up after a six-month period.

The paper said: ‘Compared with [GP-led] treatment as usual, pharmacist-led interventions for chronic pain appear more costly and provide similar quality-adjusted life years’.

The review was topical amid a proposals for pharmacists to take on more of the work traditionally done by GPs, however the researchers emphasised that their pilot study was too small to draw precise conclusions and called for larger trials to take place.

It comes as last month the RCGP and the Royal Pharmaceutical Society launched a new initiative for pharmacists to work in GP practices in a role similar to practice nurses, in a move which they said would improve patient safety and care and reduce GP waiting times.