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In a major effort to promote safe and affordable medications for patients in Karnataka, Al-Ameen College of Pharmacy plans to collaborate with both government and corporate hospitals to evaluate the different treatment options and propose the most cost-effective treatment for patients using the principles of pharmacoeconomics.

Department of Pharmacy Practice, Al-Ameen College of Pharmacy has already been engaged in similar exercises with missionary hospitals like St Martha’s and St Philomena’s in Bengaluru. The college has worked on evaluating the most cost-effective treatment for hypertension, diabetes, asthma and COPD so far.

“The protocol suggested to both St Martha's and St Philomena’s hospitals are accepted. Going forward, we are now looking forward to expand this to government and private hospitals”, said Dr Shobha Rani R. Hiremath, principal, Al-Ameen College of Pharmacy.

“Cost-effective analysis is one of the pharmacoeconomics methods to analyse which treatment option is most economical without compromising on the efficacy. Particularly in an Indian situation, cost becomes a very critical component when a patient is undergoing treatment.” she added.

“Not much research has been done in the area of pharmacoeconomics in India. In the case of Al Ameen College, we began to focus on this area after a WHO grant in 2007 to conduct a workshop on Pharmacoeconomics. We have so far conducted research projects focusing on four common medical conditions namely hypertension, diabetes, asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disorder (COPD). We analysed and tried to find out which was the most cost-effective treatment regime. We arrived at the best treatment which was least expensive but effective”, explained Dr. Shobha.

In India, pharmacoeconomics is nascent stage unlike in the developed world. The country is home to a large patient population representing not just the economically backward community but also the middle class who find medical expenses as a challenge to subsist, she said.

There is a serious lack of awareness of pharmacoeconomics among medical centres not just in Karnataka but also the country. While we are creating awareness in the medical fraternity through projects, the response has been positive.

Now “Pharmacoeconomics” is introduced as a subject in the 5th year Pharm D syllabus along with Pharmacoepidemiology. In order to expand the concept on a larger platform and train the students in pharmacoeconomics, the College had organised a one-day workshop on 'Comparative effectiveness research in healthcare' in association with Global Pharma Solutions to highlight the importance of pharmacoeconomics in clinical practice. Dr Rajesh Balkrishnan, resource person from the University of Virginia, US provided a peek into the application of pharmacoeconomics and promising career openings in this field.
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