Community pharmacy service improves inhaler technique, study finds

Dedicated community pharmacy services can result in good inhaler technique in almost all patients, a study presented at the British Thoracic Society Winter Meeting (December 6, 2019) showed.

In the study, pharmacists and pharmacy technicians attended a two-hour training session and received a resource box containing placebo inhalers, training aids and patient information leaflets.

A total of 35 pharmacies recruited a total of 380 patients with a diagnosis of asthma or COPD and performed more than 500 assessments between May 2018 and June 2019.

Of the 380 patients, 50.0% used one inhaler, 46.1% used two inhalers, and 3.9% used three inhalers. A mixture of aerosols and dry powder inhalers (DPIs) requiring different inhalation techniques was prescribed to 56.8% of patients. The most commonly prescribed inhalers were metered dose inhalers (59.5%), Ellipta (24.5%) and Turbohaler (8.4%).

The researchers were surprised to find that 27.4% of patients had never been instructed in the use of their inhaler by a healthcare professional before presenting to the pharmacy’s inhaler technical department.

On arrival, significantly more patients were assessed as having good DPI inhalation technique (defined as having no critical or serious errors) than aerosol inhalation technique (77.8% versus 49, 2%; P

The researchers concluded that a dedicated service provided by community pharmacy staff was effective in improving inhaler technique for almost all patients. However, they pointed out that utilization at many pharmacies was low and only 11 of the patients received the service on weekends.

“We have not collected information on why some pharmacies have had difficulty recruiting patients for this service, but this could be due to lack of time and other work pressures, resulting in capacity limited for additional key services in the current climate,” explained Toby Capstick, consultant pharmacist in respiratory medicine at Leeds Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust and lead author of the study.

“As of June 2019, when this data was analyzed… the service is now deployed in 69 pharmacies which have provided this service to 557 patients.

“Additionally, the success of Leeds’ service has allowed us to reach out to Bradford and start service there as well.”

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