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Friday 20 April 2012

TPA – Pharmacy Fantasy

Sometimes the opposition comes to your rescue, especially when you’re looking for a particularly egregious example of their flagrant dishonesty. So it is with the so-called Taxpayers’ Alliance (TPA), whose CEO Matthew “Gromit” Elliott is rumoured to be in line for a berth at 10 Downing Street. Young Dave should look closely at their latest “report” before making his decision.

More creative reinterpretation from the second floor

The TPA’s latest pretentiously titled “research note” is “Medicine use reviews: a wasteful subsidy to pharmacists”, letting the more gullible part of the Fourth Estate know what to think at the outset. Medicine Use Reviews (MURs) are a relatively new service where pharmacists check patients’ use of drugs to look for prescription overlaps or potential wastage.

Those pharmacists doing the reviews are paid for the service, which the TPA calls “expensive”, telling that a payment of £28 for each review is for no more than 15 minutes’ work, citing a “small survey”. But, and with the TPA there is always a but, this survey is not referenced. And the paper on MURs that is referenced was presented back in 2008.

So, from not having any cite to back up the “expensive” claim, the TPA goes on to rubbish the effectiveness of MURs. Here, they cite a paper by Asam Latif and Helen Boardman (read it HERE [.pdf]) and make this statement: “The report says that MURs ‘were, by and large, viewed [by GPs] as a waste of time and money’”. TPA watchers will not be surprised to know that the paper says no such thing.

But it does make this observation: “A small UK study of GPs views about MURs suggested that they welcomed the MUR service in principle and that the service should be more widespread; however, they did seek a clearer understanding of their role within the MUR process” for which a citation is provided.

Moreover, the statement “The MUR service is a waste of the pharmacist’s time” brought a 90% “disagree or strongly disagree” response, while “Pharmacists’ understanding of their patients’ views about medicines will be enhanced by the MURs” brought an “agree or strongly agree” total of 96%. And the idea that pharmacists are just doing MURs to cream off subsidies is not supported.

The response to the statement “I simply do not have enough time to carry out MUR” contained a 74% “agree or strongly agree”. And “I have enough supporting staff to enable me to conduct MURs to my satisfaction” brought a 74% “disagree or strongly disagree” response. It’s clear that the TPA has selectively taken quotes from the Latif and Boardman paper and ignored the actual findings.

And the assertion made by Matthew Sinclair that MURs are “reviews that most doctors don’t think represent good value” is pure invention. One more for the bin.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I'm a pharmacist and was part annoyed/part amused by the TPA article. It seemed like the type of rubbish people use to generate publicity/attract readers - i.e. simply choose a hot topic that you know will make a lot of people angry, which also has some (VERY small) basis of truth. As you rightly pointed out, you would find few pharmacists who thought MURs provided no benefit to patients.

It's nice to see that non-pharmacists didn't fall for that article.