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October 2008 Issue

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Pharmacy to Study Effectiveness of Medicaid Drug Use

By Angela Koenig
Published October 2008

Researchers in the James L. Winkle College of Pharmacy have been awarded a $1.2 million contract to determine whether Medicaid patients are receiving the appropriate medications.

The study—awarded by the Ohio Board of Regents—is scheduled to run for 21 months and is being funded by a grant from the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services.

“UC competed against all of the major academic health centers in Ohio and our proposal was deemed to provide the best analysis of drug utilization in the state Medicaid program,” says Daniel Acosta, PhD, pharmacy dean.

“This reflects on the high quality of our faculty expertise.” The objective of the study, says principal investigator Pam Heaton, PhD, assistant professor of pharmacy practice and administration sciences, is to assist the state with monitoring Medicaid and improving the quality of care for Ohio Medicaid recipients.

To accomplish this, UC researchers will analyze five prior years of Medicaid claims to identify what, if any, changes can be made at the patient/physician level to improve individual care and reduce costs. The UC team will review patient records on a monthly basis and make recommendations to the state’s Drug Utilization Review Board.
If a situation is found to be unacceptable, a letter can be sent to the physician to advise the use of alternative medications or dosages. The study will focus on medication-associated health outcomes for children and adults.

“Medicaid wants to know that patients are receiving good, adequate care and that the state’s dollars are being spent in the best way,” says Heaton.

For example, she says if a patient with a chronic condition is receiving the proper doses ofmedication, he or she may make fewer trips to the emergency room or have fewer inpatient visits at the hospital.

Heaton says the application process for this award was very competitive: “We have both the clinical and data analysis expertise here at UC,” with a team that includes programmers from the public health sciences department.

Pharmacy professor Jeff Guo, PhD, and assistant pharmacy professor Robert Cluxton, PhD, are co-investigators.

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