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Community pharmacists’ support improves antidepressant adherence in the community

Klang, Shmuel H.a; Ben-Amnon, Yuvalb; Cohen, Yaelia; Barak, Yoramc

International Clinical Psychopharmacology: November 2015 - Volume 30 - Issue 6 - p 316–319
doi: 10.1097/YIC.0000000000000090

The treatment goal of major depressive disorder (MDD) is achieving and maintaining remission. One of the major obstacles in attaining remission is poor adherence to the medication regimen. Community pharmacists (CPs) are accessible to primary care patients and are in a unique position to help improve adherence. The aim was to compare the effectiveness of pharmacist intervention with standard care for patients with MDD. This was an exploratory controlled trial conducted in 17 general pharmacies with clinical pharmacists in Israel. Participants were patients with MDD prescribed escitalopram by their general practitioner. CP medication review was initiated at enrollment, with face-to-face pharmacist adherence support at treatment initiation and every month throughout the study. Treatment as usual (TAU) was derived from computerized medical charts for the same pharmacies during the same time period. Comparison with published ‘historical’ controls was also carried out. No blinding was possible. Continuous antidepressant treatment at 6 months as reflected in computerized pharmacy records was the primary outcome. Within a 1-year period, 173 patients were enrolled. There were 49 men (28%) and 124 women (72%) in the CP group, mean age 53.9±18.9 years. There were 4079 men (32%) and 8667 women (68%) in the TAU group, mean age 50.4±17.8 years. Ninety-six patients (55%) completed 6 months of antidepressant treatment. At 1 month, the adherence rate was 71% in the CP arm and at 6 months, the rates were 55% versus published norms of 42% (P=0.004). At 1 month, the adherence rate was 57% (N=7256) in the TAU arm and at 6 months, the rate was 15.2% (N=1934) (compared with CP rates: P<0.0001). There were no differences between sites in adherence rates. CPs participating in this study reported higher levels of confidence in supporting MDD patients at the end of the study. This is the first trial of pharmacist adherence support in Israel, and shows benefits for patients in the community with MDD.

aClalit Health Services


cAbarbanel MHC and the Sackler School of Medicine, Tel-Aviv University, Tel-Aviv, Israel

Correspondence to Yoram Barak, MD, MHA, Psychogeriatric Department, Abarbanel Mental Health Center, 15 KKL Street, 59100 Bat-Yam, Israel Tel/fax: +972 3 5552738; e-mail:

Received December 17, 2014

Accepted June 16, 2015

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