Chronic Medication Adherence & The Role of Pharmacists during the COVID-19 Pandemic

Chronic Medication Adherence during The Pandemic

While COVID-19 is overwhelming around the world, it has greatly strained the healthcare system. Many countries have conducted lockdown or movement control for the good of their people’s health. However, the shorter operation hours of health facilities have restricted patients with chronic medical conditions to follow-up, visit, or refill their medication during this period. The current pandemic has also created hesitation amongst patients on whether they should expose themselves to the infection risk in a health facility.

During this pandemic, there are reduced import and export activities. Some pharmaceutical companies may be unable to manufacture sufficient medical supplies. This negatively impacts the population living in low-middle-income countries due to the limited supply of medicine which leads to escalated prices. Widespread news about COVID-19 on social media has induced further stress and fear in society. 1 Patients without mental and social support are likely to be disappointed and lose confidence in the healthcare system thus affecting their adherence towards medicines.2

Patients with chronic disease might lose their medication adherence as they face difficulties to consult doctors during the pandemic.  Adherence to chronic medicines is important to maintain patients’ quality of life. Patients should be educated that non-compliance with medicines will increase mortality and morbidity. 

The Many Roles of Pharmacist in Patient Healthcare during the Pandemic

Community pharmacists as the most approachable health care workers during COVID-19 pandemic. They play a crucial role in terms of educating patients regarding the importance of compliance with medications.3  Pharmacists serve as information verification hubs to clarify myths and doubts faced by customers, including unsafe self-medication propagated through social media, polypharmacy, promoting adherence, filtering medication needs and providing follow-up services.

Community pharmacist can help manage patients with chronic disease by: 

  • Triaging for suspected COVID-19 cases at community level

Pharmacists are able to source out suspected COVID-19 cases and report to health management teams  in order to avoid the spread of disease.

  • Chronic diseases medication availability

Pharmacists can provide sufficient medicines supply during the pandemic. Courier service is available to send the medications until doorsteps, thereby also promoting social distance and self-isolation.

  • Supporting rational medicines use

Pharmacists can provide information regarding the controversial medication news that floods social media such as the use of hydroxychloroquine, chlorine dioxide tag, azithromycin, high doses vitamin C, garlic and apple cider vinegar on COVID-19. 

  • Promoting medication adherence

Pharmacists can show care towards patients’ medication adherence and by utilizing technology such as message texting and phone calls to emphasize the importance of medication adherence.

  • Medication review

As the pandemic continues, there will be some postponement of consultation follow up or minor procedures. Patients who need to change medications might still holding old prescriptions or receive prescriptions with subsequent supply of medicines. In such circumstances, pharmacists can help to review prescription and medication list to provide appropriate judgement on the feasibility of the new prescription.

The efforts by community pharmacists is important to ensure people always seek help appropriately whenever needed. Therefore, do not hesitate to contact us for your well being during this worldwide pandemic!  

If you do have any inquiry but feel inconvenient to visit our stores for a consultation with our pharmacist, you may also Ask Us via CARiNG Pharmacy’s Facebook Messenger on any inquiry and we will reply you as soon as possible.

 

References:

  1.  Huang Y., Zhao N. Generalized anxiety disorder, depressive symptoms and sleep quality during COVID-19 epidemic in China: a web-based cross-sectional survey. medRxiv. 2020:20025395. 2020.2002.2019.
  2. Salleh M.R. Life event, stress and illness. Malays J Med Sci : MJMS. 2008;15(4):9–18.
  3. Mossialos E.C.E., Naci H., Benrimoj S. “retailers” to health care providers: transforming the role of community pharmacists in chronic disease management. Health Pol. 2015;119:628–639.