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REF NO.: 136

SUBJECT: School of Pharmacy to receive $150,000 for interdisciplinary health research

DATE: April 2

Members of Memorial University’s School of Pharmacy and the Faculty of Medicine and the University of British Columbia have been awarded an Health Research Foundation Interdisciplinary Team Grant.

The grant totals $150,000 over three years to assess the effectiveness of implementing a pharmacy-delivered medication management service to improve medication adherence and the quality of life for patients with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).

“COPD affects over one million people and is the fourth leading cause of death in Canada,” said Dr. Carlo Marra, team researcher and dean, School of Pharmacy. “It accounts for the highest rates of hospital admission and re-admission among major chronic illnesses. The disease is also expensive to manage. Nationally, the annual cost is over $4 billion with more than 60 per cent arising from hospitalization.”

In Newfoundland and Labrador, the COPD hospitalization rate is 1,119 out of every 100,000 and the mortality rate is 32 per 100,000.

“These rates are higher than the national average, but the good news is that this disease is preventable and treatable,” added Dr. Marra. “When used properly, medications can address COPD symptoms, reduce the frequency and severity of pulmonary exacerbations and improve quality of life and exercise tolerance.”

Up to 50 per cent of patients do not adhere to their medications, and as many as 75 per cent use improper inhaler technique.

Pharmacists are highly skilled but underutilized health-care providers who engage with patients regarding their medications more frequently than any other health-care practitioner.

“This project proposes that pharmacists are able to engage those with COPD in a more comprehensive manner, thereby improving their medication adherence and improving overall health outcomes,” added Dr. Marra.

The project will utilize a network of 500-plus community pharmacists to develop simple techniques and assessments to improve medication adherence.

“The Health Research Foundation is proud to support interdisciplinary health research in academic centres across Canada that can help reduce the burden on our health system,” said Mel Cappe, chair, Health Research Foundation. “Memorial University’s School of Pharmacy team is conducting highly-valuable research that will help doctors and pharmacists improve the quality of life for patients living with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.”

            In addition to Dr. Marra, team members include Drs. Erin Davis, J.M. Gamble and John Hawboldt of the School of Pharmacy, Dr. Jamie Farrell of the Faculty of Medicine and Dr. Mark FitzGerald of the Univeristy of British Columbia.

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For further information and to arrange interviews, please contact Heidi Wicks, communications co-ordinator, School of Pharmacy, at wicksh@mun.ca, (709) 777-7302 (office) or (709) 749-7462 (mobile); or Sarah Douglas, director, media and government relations, Canada’s Research-Based Pharmaceutical Companies, at sdouglas@canadapharma.org, (613) 236-0455 or (613) 883-7250 (mobile).

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