RGU pharmacists publish prescription review

Pharmacists and nurses are as effective as doctors when it comes to prescribing medications, according to a review written by Robert Gordon University (RGU) academics.

Professor Derek StewartThe review, entitled ‘Non-medical prescribing versus medical prescribing for acute and chronic disease management in primary and secondary care’, was undertaken by RGU’s Professor Derek Stewart and Dr Katie MacLure, alongside Dr Johnson George and Dr Greg Weeks from Melbourne’s Monash University.

The team’s aim was to establish whether health professionals other than doctors, with varying levels of training, were as effective as usual medical prescribers.

A total of 46 relevant studies were collected and analysed, which examined pharmacists and nursing prescribers across the world and in various different settings. These studies included over 37,000 participants.

A number of countries allow health professionals other than doctors to prescribe medication. In the UK, a range of health professionals, such as pharmacists and nurses can undertake specific training which allows them to prescribe medicines within their competence, which previously could only be prescribed by doctors.

The aim is to provide improved and timely access to medicines for patients where there are doctor shortages or the health system is facing pressures.

The team found that, while there were limitations with the studies reviewed, the outcomes for non-medical prescribers were comparable to medical prescribers for a wide range of conditions, including high blood pressure, diabetes control and high cholesterol.

The review, which has now been published by the Cochrane Collaboration, has already been cited by the Royal Pharmaceutical Society (RPS) in their move to allow pharmacists to routinely prescribe medicines for people with long-term conditions.

Professor Derek Stewart, one of the review’s authors, said: “This is the largest and most comprehensive review to date of the effectiveness of non-medical prescribers.

“While we acknowledge the limitations of the studies reviewed, this does provide more evidence that suitably trained pharmacists and nurses can prescribe medicines and gain the same benefits when compared to doctors.

“These findings also support Scottish Government strategy for developing the roles of pharmacists, nurses and other health professionals.”

Release by Jonathon Milne
Communications Officer | Health and Sport
Press and Media Enquiries