Pharmacy News

Michelle Cathers
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UF Health will lead CDC-backed hypertension pharmacists’ program

University of Florida Health has been awarded a stipend by CDC to run a program that aims to connect patients with high BP to community pharmacists.

Patients in the program, set to launch this summer, will see a specially trained pharmacist at a community pharmacy and receive individualized care and education.

The program model, which originated at University of Michigan Health in Ann Arbor, includes pharmacists who work alongside a patient’s primary care physician. Patients with hypertension are seen for individualized BP control either at a primary care clinic or a community retail pharmacy—whichever is most accessible.

In 2019, CDC conducted a rigorous evaluation of the model, called the Michigan Medicine Hypertension Pharmacists’ Program (HPP), and found that the program improved BP control rates for participants. Specifically, CDC found that 66% of patients who met with an HPP pharmacist had their hypertension under control within 3 months, compared with 42% of patients who did not meet with a pharmacist. At the 6-month mark, 69% had their BP under control, compared with 56% of nonparticipants.

Earlier this year, CDC announced it will bring the program to predominantly Black populations in the southeastern United States.

UF Health Jacksonville will work to replicate and scale the program in the Southeast. The program is facilitated by the UF Health Jacksonville Office of Community Engagement and a collaboration among the UF Health Total Care Clinic-Jacksonville, the UF College of Pharmacy, and Panama Pharmacy.

“As a pharmacist, I see the impact of social determinants of health every day in clinical practice,” said Chardaè Whitner, PharmD, a clinical assistant professor at the UF College of Pharmacy's Jacksonville campus, who is leading the effort. “We have to think about actionable models that provide access to care. Collaborating with a community pharmacy like Panama Pharmacy, which can provide accessibility through evening and weekend hours and quality, patient-centered care from clinical pharmacists, ensures we can bridge that gap and see better patient outcomes.”

Kevin Duane, PharmD, who owns two Panama Pharmacy locations in Jacksonville, noted in a UF press release that the program’s collaborative approach helps to ensure there is a continuity of care with a large, diversely trained team of providers.

“It’s very important that community pharmacy is involved in clinical and decision-making activities when it comes to a patient’s plan of care,” he said. “At Panama Pharmacy, we believe in a lot more for our community pharmacists than just dispensing medications. The ability to do this work alongside UF Health Jacksonville and the CDC presents a great opportunity to help patients better manage their blood pressure; to do it for a historically underserved community makes it even sweeter, especially considering this is the community that our pharmacy lives to serve every day.”

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