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DEPARTMENT OF AGING ANNOUNCES NEW DRUG REVIEW PROGRAM

 DEPARTMENT OF AGING ANNOUNCES NEW DRUG REVIEW PROGRAM
 HARRISBURG, Pa., Aug. 12 /PRNewswire/ -- State Secretary of Aging


Linda M. Rhodes today announced a prescription medication review program to ensure that people receiving Pharmaceutical Assistance Contract for the Elderly (PACE) benefits are not over- or under-medicated.
 The review process, known as Prospective Drug Utilization Review (ProDUR), will begin next week. It will be conducted by the Aging Department's expanded drug utilization review team.
 "Older people experience a variety of chronic illnesses and as a result they encounter a multitude of physicians to care for them," Rhodes said. "It is not unusual to find older people taking three or four maintenance medications every day of their life.
 "Though these medications can greatly improve their quality of life, if not taken properly, they can also harm them."
 The elderly account for 40 percent of all hospitalizations and half of all deaths that are due to medication use and misuse in this country.
 ProDUR will enable PACE to deny reimbursement for a prescription that is considered inappropriate and would likely place a cardholder at risk for an adverse drug reaction.
 "ProDUR will be very beneficial," said Dr. Roger Cadieux, physician consultant to the Department of Aging. "We will be looking prospectively at the use and potential misuse of medication in a fragile age group, with the goal of reducing the adverse effects of medication that is duplicative or prescribed in inappropriate doses."
 Rhodes noted that for five years the department has had regional teams of physicians and pharmacists review the mix and number of medications that PACE cardholders take. When ever the team believed that a cardholder's health might be at risk, a letter was sent to the doctor advising him or her of the potential problems.
 "We have found, however, that engaging this problem after the fact has been modestly effective," Rhodes said. "We have learned that the most direct and successful way of correcting this problem is to act ahead of time -- prospectively -- and at the point of having a prescription dispensed."
 Rhodes stressed that ProDUR will be a tool to assist doctors and pharmacists, not replace or circumvent them.
 The implementation of ProDUR has the support of advocates for the elderly, including the Pennsylvania Council on Aging.
 Council member Anneta S. Kraus, founder of Geriatric Planning Services of Media, praised ProDUR as a way to accurately assess an older person's health.
 "Often I see older people making drastic changes in lifestyle, like moving into a nursing home or in with a relative, because they become confused and unsure of themselves," Kraus said. "But their problem can often be traced to a drug interaction, or to too high a dosage of medication for someone their age."
 Rhodes noted that Pennsylvania will be the first third-party, out- patient prescription drug program in the country to deny reimbursement prior to dispensing the inappropriate medication.
 "We hope that the physicians and pharmacists who have been our partners with PACE embrace our effort in the spirit with which we initiate it," Rhodes said. "It's spirit is to offer our elders medications that will do them no harm."
 /delval/
 -0- 8/12/92
 /CONTACT: Kate Megargee of the Department of Aging, 717-783-1549/ CO: Pennsylvania Department of Aging ST: Pennsylvania IN: SU:


MK -- PH029 -- 6284 08/12/92 15:07 EDT
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Date:Aug 12, 1992
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