Pharmacy branches out

By Anne-Marie Emerson

Wanganui people who take the drug warfarin now no longer need to go to the hospital to check they are receiving the right dose.

Radius Pharmacy, in the Springvale shopping centre, has just received a contract from the Whanganui District Health Board to do warfarin testing. It is the only pharmacy in the Wanganui district that can do the testing.

Pharmacist Melina Holmes from Radius Pharmacy said warfarin was a common anti-coagulant medicine taken by people at risk of heart disease, stroke or blood clots.

The dosage has to be exactly right to be effective, so patients must have blood tests at the hospital regularly to make sure the dosage is correct.

"Once a patient's medication is stable, they need to have a blood test done at the hospital once a month. So it's quite invasive," Mrs Holmes said.

However, with their doctor's approval, and only if their warfarin levels are stable, the patient can now choose to have their warfarin testing done at Radius Pharmacy, with a simple finger-prick test.

"Unlike at the hospital, we can give them the result immediately and directly. They can drop in any time and have their testing done."

Mrs Holmes said the pharmacy had trained three of its pharmacists to do the testing and had also built two small consulting rooms.

Over the past two years, a pilot study of 10 pharmacies administered warfarin testing.

"What they found was that there was better control of medicine levels and reductions in hospitalisations. So the testing has been rolled out to another 50 pharmacies throughout the country, and we're in that second intake," Mrs Holmes said.

At the moment, the pharmacy has approval to administer the testing to only 45 people.

But Mrs Holmes said she hoped this was the start of more pharmacy-based medical care.

"It's possible that one day we'll be able to vaccinate people. It's all about easier access for people."

- Wanganui Chronicle

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