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April 9, 2009
Pharmacists in Diabetes Ten City Challenge Critical to Success
Eileen Koutnik-Fotopoulos, Staff Writer
The Diabetes Ten City Challenge (DTCC) is showing promise in curbing diabetes-related health care costs and improving patient health with the help of pharmacists, according to a study published in the May/June issue of the Journal of the American Pharmacists Association.
In the DTCC program, sponsored by the American Pharmacists Association with support from GlaxoSmithKline, 30 employers in 10 US cities established a voluntary health benefit for employees, dependents, and retirees with diabetes.
As part of the program, employers waive copays for diabetes medications and supplies and help patients manage their diabetes on a daily basis with the assistance of a specially-trained pharmacist coach. The pharmacists counsel patients on their treatment regimens, help patients track their blood sugar levels and cholesterol, and encourage them to control their disease through exercise, nutrition, and lifestyle changes.
The newly released data on 573 diabetic patients enrolled in the program for at least 1 year indicated that the average total health care costs were lowered annually by $1079 per patient (7.2%), compared with projected costs without the program. The patients also saved an average of $593 per year on their diabetes medications and supplies.
The findings also showed major improvements in key health measures: a 23% rise in the number of patients reaching their goal blood sugar levels set by the American Diabetes Association; an 11% increase in the number of patients achieving their optimal cholesterol numbers; and a 39% increase in the number of patients keeping their blood pressure under control.
The DTCC program is an outgrowth of the successful Asheville Project launched in Asheville, North Carolina, in 1997.