Pharmacy trial for asthma

Pharmacists are leading an innovative new push to relieve people from the heavy burden of uncontrolled asthma.

Under the Sixth Community Pharmacy Agreement, the Australian government is providing $50 million for five years for the Pharmacy Trial Program (PTP) to trial new approaches for pharmacy services.

The Woolcock Institute of Medical Research in Sydney is heading one of these trials, involving a pharmacist-delivered asthma service, in which pharmacists can assess and, if necessary, refer asthma patients with complex issues to a GP.

Researchers are looking to recruit 80 pharmacists and 20 GPs from across NSW, WA and Tasmania to take part in the trial. Healthcare professionals involved will be remunerated for time spent on the service.

“We have a very exciting opportunity for pharmacists across three states to get involved in a totally new concept in asthma management for Australia,” Woolcock Institute Executive Director Professor Carol Armour said. “If it works as hoped, it will relieve the substantial burden that many patients and their families experience as a result of suboptimally controlled asthma.”

Called the Pharmacy Trial Program – Asthma and Rhinitis Control, it is based on pharmacists:

  • identifying patients with poorly controlled asthma using the Asthma Control Questionnaire;
  • assessing possible causes of poor control; and
  • referring patients with unknown causes/complex issues to their GP.

This intervention targets three key factors associated with uncontrolled asthma: poor adherence, characterised by underuse of preventer medication and/or overuse of reliever medication; suboptimal inhaler technique; and

uncontrolled allergic rhinitis.

The randomised controlled trial starts in July and will recruit 840 people with poorly controlled asthma.

Pharmacies will be asked to submit an expression of interest in the project once the software and training plan are complete.

The call for pharmacists to submit an expression of interest has started in NSW and WA. The call in Tasmania will happen soon. Watch the Pharmacy Guild and Pharmaceutical Society of Australia websites.