The Department of Health’s Food and Drug Administration (FDA) yesterday said the pharmaceutical care programs run by it and the Bureau of Health Promotion have helped reduce the overuse of medications and number of medical consultations.
Citing Ministry of the Interior statistics, the FDA said that by the end of last year, elderly people over 65 accounted for 10.9 percent of Taiwan’s total population, and because the elderly are more likely to suffer from multiple diseases or illnesses and take more than one kind of medicine at the same time, they can easily become a high risk group for overmedication.
Bureau official Dai Hsueh-yung (戴雪詠) said it is estimated that about one in every five people will be older than 65 by 2025, so safe drug use and the role of licensed pharmacists is becoming more important to prevent health risks caused by overmedication.
The FDA said many people take traditional Chinese medicine or self-purchased supplements along with Western medicine, which may increase health risks.
The FDA this year initiated a two-year pharmaceutical care program aimed at high-risk groups, which included care service at homes, communities and facilities.
It also commissioned the Pharmacist Association to establish standard operating procedures and training courses for pharmaceutical care.
The agency said a program run last year for elderly people in remote districts of six counties, examining and monitoring their drug use behavior, had reduced the average number of drugs taken from 6.1 to 5.1.
The Pharmacist Association said that a program commissioned by the bureau had helped stabilize the medication use of 808 people and 4,041 people in 2010 and last year respectively, and reduced the number of times patients visited the doctors by 29 percent and 17 percent in those two years respectively.
The reduced number of doctors’ visits had also helped these people save money on clinic visits by 20 percent and 10 percent respectively in 2010 and last year, the bureau said.
According to 2010 statistics, people in Taiwan visited the doctors an average of 15.2 times per year and that the drugs costs accounted for about 25 percent of the national health insurance’s total expenditures, the FDA said, noting that both figures were higher than those for many other countries.
The FDA said the pharmaceutical care programs will be expanded and that it hopes to increase the people in the program by at least 7,000 next year.