Getting Asthma Under Control Using the Skills of the Community Pharmacist

Asthma affects approximately 10% of the Australian population and when assessed, half of these people have poorly controlled asthma. The PTP – ARC (Getting asthma under control using the skills of the community pharmacist) project addresses the need to improve clinical outcomes for the Australian population at risk of uncontrolled asthma, by extending the role of pharmacists in the delivery of primary health care services through community pharmacies. The trial is a culmination of 16 years of asthma research.

The project is a collaboration between the Woolcock Institute of Medical Research (lead organisation), University of Sydney, Curtin University, University of Tasmania, the Pharmaceutical Society of Australia, The Pharmacy Guild of Australia, National Asthma Council Australia and the George Institute for Global Health. Thus at this stage pharmacies will only be recruited from New South Wales, Western Australia and Tasmania. It is hoped that other states will be involved in the future.

The objective of PTP-ARC is to compare the efficacy and cost effectiveness of a pharmacist-delivered asthma service comprising of consultations with the pharmacist over a 12-month period for people with uncontrolled asthma (Group A) versus a “low-level” pharmacy intervention comprising identification of uncontrolled asthma with referral to the GP (Group B) and “usual primary care” in general practice (group C).

The proposed intervention will target three key factors associated poor asthma control:

  1. Poor adherence, characterised by underuse of preventer medication and/or overuse of reliever medication
  2. Suboptimal inhaler technique and/or
  3. Uncontrolled allergic rhinitis.

The pharmacist-delivered asthma service will be tested for efficacy using a cluster randomized controlled design. The trial will recruit over 840 Australians with poorly controlled asthma from 80 participating pharmacies and approximately 20 GP practices throughout New South Wales, Western Australia and Tasmania. An economic analysis will investigate the relative cost-effectiveness of this service. The trial in community pharmacy will commence in July 2018 and will be completed by October 2019.

Group A pharmacies will contact the person with asthma a total of 4 times in 12 months. Group B will contact the person with asthma a total of 3 times in 12 months. Pharmacists will be remunerated for their time.

This trial program is funded by the Australian Government Department of Health as part of the Sixth Community Pharmacy Agreement.