Improving care for cystic fibrosis patients with pharmacy program

Posted at 4:57 PM, Dec 16, 2019
and last updated 2019-12-17 19:01:05-05

BOISE — For people living with cystic fibrosis, St. Luke's is making it easier to keep up, by putting a pharmacy directly in the clinic. A new grant from the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation goes towards implementing a pharmacy program for the center in Boise.

The grant totals $317,520 and it's helping keep those patient’s and their prescriptions up to date.

“What that grant really allows us to do is have a pharmacist and pharmacy tech to manage that for them, so they don’t ever run out of medication," said Brown.

A cystic fibrosis diagnosis is a major adjustment, according to Dr. Brown. For some patients, that means taking several different types of medication a day.

"Probably 10 different medications per patients," said clinical pharmacist Sabrina Sherwood.

Sabrina Sherwood is the first clinical pharmacist hired for the clinic thanks to the grant.

“I see maybe eight patients on busy clinic days and in between that I’m calling pharmacies trying to get costs down for patients, calling insurances trying to get medications approved," said Sherwood.

Sherwood says patients can go to 4-5 different pharmacies for all their medication. She’s helped lower that down to two pharmacies per patient.

“If I'm able to fill the medications, then I know when they’re due for refills, and I know these patients better than other specialty pharmacies do," said Sherwood.

Patients with CF need to go for a checkup every three month, but they spend hours each day doing treatment.

“Your self care takes anywhere from 2-3 hours a day, they don’t have extra time to be arguing with their specialty pharmacy," said Brown.

Brown says other clinics with pharmacy programs have seen great results leading to fewer hospitalizations for patients. Fewer hospital visits save cost and present fewer worries over full recovery.

“A day spent out of the hospital is better than a a day spent in the hospital," said Brown.

In other exciting news for cystic fibrosis patients there's a new drug recently FDA approved called Trikafta. It's available for people 12 years of age or older and it significantly improves lung function.

St. Luke's was a research study site so some of their patients have already been on the new drug for a few months.