, Volume 27, Issue 1, pp 11–24 | Cite as

Is Medication Review by Primary-Care Pharmacists for Older People Cost Effective?

A Narrative Review of the Literature, Focusing on Costs and Benefits
  • Arnold G. ZermanskyEmail author
  • Jonathan Silcock
Review Article


The nature, definition and history of medication review of long-term conditions and treatment is discussed. A literature search for studies of medication review of older people in primary care by pharmacists yielded 16 reports of studies in English, and only ten of these were randomized controlled trials. Extracting meaningful conclusions from the data was problematic because of variations in the nature of the review described, the populations studied, the outcome data measured and the evaluation criteria used. There is a dearth of economic measurement and often inadequate descriptions of the interventions performed. Those interventions that were described in detail varied in the skills, training and approach of the pharmacists. Therefore, there was no possibility of aggregating results of studies, and the review conclusions are based on trends and impression rather than meta-analysis.

There was no suggestion in any reports that patients were harmed by the interventions, and some consistency in suggesting that falls and hospital admissions might be reduced with modest cost savings, at least in terms of drug costs. No studies reported a benefit in terms of mortality, mental capacity or activities of daily living. The authors conclude that clinical medication review is probably of value and may be cost effective, but propose a large-scale, longterm, multicentre, collaborative clinical trial with carefully chosen (and clearly described) interventions and outcome measures to confirm this.


Nursing Home Nursing Home Resident Medication Review Inappropriate Medication Pharmacist Intervention 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.



No sources of funding were used to assist in the preparation of this review.

A. Zermansky has been involved in the development and execution of two major clinical trials of chemical medication review by pharmacists. The authors have no other conflicts of interest that are directly relevant to the content of this review.


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© Adis Data Information BV 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.School of HealthcareUniversity of LeedsLeedsUK

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