The Norwegian Parliament has granted 5 million NOK to the “inhaler advice” pilot initiative, and the pharmacies will receive 80 NOK back for each patient who receives the standardised advice. “Pharmacies giving advice on how to use inhalers is an important service for asthma and COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease) patients so they can get the best out of their medication,” says Bent Høie, the Norwegian Minister of Health and Care Services.
Since the start of the campaign on 1 March this year, Vitusapotek has accounted for a good proportion of the inhaler advice. 229 Vitusapotek branches are responsible for almost 45 per cent of all the advice sessions given in Norway’s 850 pharmacies.
Best of the best are the colleagues at Vitusapotek Sandvika and Vitusapotek Strømmen Storsenter. Only these two pharmacies have given more than 600 of the just over 28,000 advice sessions provided so far.
Patients are grateful for the advice
“Many people are surprised that they are not using their inhaler properly. They are very grateful for the advice they receive,” says Ruben Kufaas Fossli, pharmacy manager at Vitusapotek Strømmen. As a general rule, the mistakes identified are small but they can have a profound effect on the efficacy of the medication. “It might be something as simple as how to hold the inhaler or how to breath. The point is that the patient gets feedback on what they can improve,” he adds.
The team of Vitusapotek Sandvika started planning for this service in early winter, assigning most of the responsibility for implementation and follow-up to the two pharmacists Farzanah and Sadiq. At the same time, they decided that all pharmacists working at the pharmacy should take a certification course, and that the pharmacy technicians would also play an active role in implementing the service as effectively as possible.
Everyone at the pharmacy agrees that this is a rewarding task to which the customers are responding very positively. It is also very gratifying to hear that people come back to tell the pharmacy staff that they feel much better since starting to use their inhaler correctly. And that means the initial wish of Bent Høie, Minister of Health and Care Services, has been fulfilled.
"I hope the patients will report that they are getting more from their treatment, that fewer mistakes occur, and that we as a society can increase the benefit from the money we spend on medication", said Høie when he launched the inhaler service at the beginning of March.
About inhaler advice
- The starting point for inhaler advice is that the patient demonstrates their own inhalation technique to the pharmacist, who will then provide advice and guidance if there is anything to improve upon.
- If the patient has not used the inhaler before, the pharmacist will start by teaching them the correct technique.
- The patient can also be advised on how to see if the inhaler is empty, how to clean it and how to store it.