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Br J Clin Pharmacol. 2012 Jul;74(1):147-53. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-2125.2012.04183.x.

Implementing a statin switching programme in primary care: patients' views and experiences.

Author information

1
School of Pharmacy and Biomolecular Sciences, Liverpool John Moores University, Liverpool L3 3AF, UK. j.krska@kent.ac.uk

Abstract

WHAT IS ALREADY KNOWN ABOUT THIS SUBJECT:

• Switching of patients' prescribed medicines within a therapeutic class is a common strategy to reduce prescribing costs, and in England a standard methodology has been promoted for switching processes. • Previous work to date suggests many patients are sceptical of generic products and switching may reduce compliance. • Patients' views on switching in general and the processes used have not been widely sought.

WHAT THIS STUDY ADDS:

• Patients may be less accepting of therapeutic switching programmes than is currently assumed. • Patients lacked understanding of the reason for the switch, despite standard letters and information leaflets being used, and few sought consultations. • Greater explanation of switching, possibly with involvement of community pharmacists, could lead to improved patient understanding and acceptance. INTRODUCTION Estimates suggest £200 million could be saved on prescribing costs in England by implementing medication switches. Few studies have evaluated patients' views or understanding of therapeutic switches.

AIM:

To obtain patient and pharmacist perspectives on switching from atorvastatin to simvastatin within an English Primary Care Trust (PCT).

METHOD:

All patients undergoing this switch, in seven self-selected East Lancashire practices, were sent postal questionnaires covering demographics, experiences and views regarding switching, with no reminder. Practice pharmacists implementing switches in these practices were interviewed about processes and their views on these.

RESULTS:

Pharmacists' switching process involved a standard letter offering a telephone consultation or appointment, plus an information leaflet. They considered most patients accepted switches, with few requesting consultations. Four hundred and ninety-four patients were identified and a response rate of 48.6% (240) obtained. The majority of respondents were happy with the switch (53.7%) and how they were informed (60.1%), with these findings being positively correlated. However over half (52.9%) did not understand the reason for the switch, particularly those with lower educational qualifications. Patients unhappy about switching perceived they had experienced side effects, or only learned of the switch on collecting a prescription or did not recall the consultation offer. Respondents indicated a preference for future switches to involve a face-to-face consultation (59.8%), with two-thirds (65.2%) agreeing that community pharmacists should explain medication switches.

CONCLUSION:

The standard process used, in line with nationally-designed templates, resulted in many patients being unhappy with or lacking understanding of switching statins, suggesting that improvements may be needed.

PMID:
22257274
PMCID:
PMC3394139
DOI:
10.1111/j.1365-2125.2012.04183.x
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article
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