Center research focuses on dangerous drug-drug interactions

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Drug-drug interactions (DDIs) are preventable medication errors, yet millions of Americans are exposed to clinically important interactions each year.

For this reason, DDI research has been the longest-standing area of emphasis of the college’s Center for Health Outcomes and PharmacoEconomic Research (HOPE center), dating from 1999.

The center partners with the University of Arizona Center for Education & Research on Therapeutics (CERT) at the Critical Path Institute, whose areas of emphasis are drug interactions and women’s health. Women are more susceptible to DDIs because they take more medications than men and experience more severe reactions to contraindicated drug combinations.

Faculty have led many research projects

Faculty members from the HOPE center have led numerous DDI-related research projects, including:

1. Prescriber knowledge of drug-drug interaction

2. Pharmacy, medical, and nurse practitioner student knowledge of drug-drug interactions

3. Rates of potential interactions in community pharmacies in relation to work load

4. Prevalence of potential drug-drug interactions among commercial insurers and Department of Veterans Affairs

5. Attitudes towards drug-drug interaction alerts by pharmacists and physicians

6. Performance of pharmacy software systems to identify drug-drug interactions

7. Agreement among various pharmacy compendia regarding the significance of drug-drug interactions

8. Performance of electronic compendia with respect to drug-drug interactions

9. Reasons for overriding clinical important drug-drug interaction alerts

Each of the projects has added to the body of knowledge of drug-drug interactions. For example, the “Prescriber knowledge of drug-drug interaction” study found that medication prescribers correctly identified fewer than half of drug pairs with potentially dangerous DDIs. This finding raises concern because of the high number of drugs Americans take: an average of 2.3 medications is prescribed during each physician office visit.

The center specializes in other projects and training, as well

In addition to the completed DDI research, the HOPE center has ongoing projects that focus on physician education, pharmacy software systems, educational outreach efforts through pharmacy and nurse practitioner students, clinical consequences of drug-drug interactions and relying on pharmacists to prevent serious drug-drug interactions.

The center also specializes in the study of pharmacoeconomics, or the burden of illness, which includes the cost of care, quality of life and humanistic issues.

The faculty involved in HOPE center projects includes professors Ed Armstrong, Daniel Malone and John Murphy, associate professor Grant Skrepnek, and assistant professor Terri Warholak. Others involved include Amy Grizzle, assistant director of the center, and Lisa Hines, clinical pharmacist.