Dr. Jerry Avorn & Tom Snedden discuss “Improving Physician Prescribing Practices and Medication Policy”

Last week, Penn’s Institute on Aging welcomed Jerome “Jerry” Avorn, MD, Professor of Medicine, Harvard Medical School, and Chief, Division of Pharmacoepidemiology and Pharmacoeconomics, Brigham and Women’s Hospital, and Tom Snedden, Director of the Pennsylvania PACE Program, for their Visiting Scholar lecture series.

Their discussion, titled “Improving Physician Prescribing Practices and Medication Policy”, revolved around the importance of ensuring that seniors are receiving the appropriate care and treatment to better their lives, as well as their ability to do so in an affordable way.

Snedden and Avorn have dedicated, and continue to dedicate, a great deal of their time to collaborate in a way that makes this all possible. Dr. Jerry Avorn is behind the Alosa Foundation, a non-profit organization who works together with the PACE program to make sure that seniors are gaining access to the correct medications in the correct dosages. Throughout his talk, Avorn reveals that the problem is not only that patients are being prescribed medications that may not be the most beneficial for their circumstance, but that we are also dealing with the issues of overprescribing as well as under-prescribing.

Among the many drugs mentioned by Dr. Avorn, he explains that one of the most generally overprescribed drugs, bisphosphonates, commonly used to treat osteoporosis and other similar diseases, are also one of the most under-prescribed in patients who really do need it.

Though there are many reasons that this is happening, Dr. Avorn attributes it in part to the idea that drugs are being used in ways that were never expected in clinical trials, both by patients and doctors alike. One also has to keep in mind that it is nearly impossible to stay entirely up to date with any and all new information regarding prescription medication as soon as it comes out. The truth of the matter is, “a primary care physician would have to spend 12 or more hours/week to stay current on all relevant literature,” said Dr. Avorn.

The Alosa Foundation/PACE collaboration of “academic detailing” is Avorn and Snedden’s hope to find a solution to this problem. Their idea is that by using this “service-oriented outreach education” a model, we can improve the flow of effective communication between the pharmaceutical industry and health care providers.

As stated by the Alosa Foundation, this model “uses specially trained clinical educators who meet one-on-one with physicians, nurse practitioners, and physician assistants (at their practice locations), to discuss the most recent clinical data on a particular primary care topic. This approach provides an effective and convenient way for providers to stay up-to-date on the latest clinical research findings, with the ultimate goal of improving prescribing decisions and patient care.”

For more information on the Alosa Foundation, click here.

For more information on the Pennsylvania PACE program, click here.

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