JANUARY 2023 - As a chronic and progressive neurological condition, Parkinson’s disease (PD) can be particularly challenging for patients to manage, especially as lengthy wait-times for specialists often leave patients unsupported for long periods of time. Frontline community pharmacists can play a key role here in filling the gaps, but the reality is that there are no current tools to guide pharmacists in helping patients manage this complex condition.
Pharmacist Amy Tran with Parkinson Wellness Projects in Victoria, B.C., is hoping to change that. As a 2022 CFP Innovation Fund recipient, she and her team* will survey PD patients in the community (as well as pharmacists) over the next few months to identify areas of drug therapy where people encounter challenges and require guidance. Then they’ll use that data, along with information gleaned from focus groups, to create a toolkit to help pharmacists better educate and counsel patients in dealing with their PD.
Tran says during the height of COVID-19, when doctor’s offices were closed, community pharmacists became the go-to resource for many patients. “This is a progressive disease so things change constantly and a medication regimen that worked last visit may not work now,” she says. “Being part of any adjustments that have to be made to optimize therapy is where pharmacists can play a key role in the community.”
In presenting on topics associated with PD medication management throughout her career—and participating in online patient support groups during COVID-19—Tran discovered that there are common questions emerging around PD management that patients struggle with. “By actively engaging with patients with PD, community pharmacists and other health professionals, we can develop tools and resources to better support both pharmacists and patients with medication therapy,” she says, adding that this will also help those with PD feel more capable of managing their condition in between appointments.
This is a year-long project and Tran expects a PD toolkit for pharmacists in B.C. to be available sometime this fall. “We hope the information we gather in B.C. can eventually be disseminated across all of Canada,” she says.
*Collaborating investigators on the project include Dr. Keiran Tuck, movement disorder specialist, Royal Jubilee Hospital, Parkinson’s and Movement Disorders Clinic; Bailey Martin, executive director, Parkinson Wellness Projects; and Larry Leung, assistant professor of teaching, Faculty of Pharmaceutical Sciences, University of British Columbia.