Pharmacists' nonprofit in Durham could be a model for health-care reform

DURHAM — For 15 years, pharmacists at a Durham nonprofit have helped older, low-income people take the right prescription drugs, in the right amounts at the right times.

But the job of Senior PharmAssist doesn't end there. The agency also works to keep clients from taking prescription drugs in ways that can actually harm or kill them -- through bad interactions with other drugs, food or medical conditions.

Sounds pretty basic, but such precautions on a national scale could save more than $20 billion annually in unnecessary hospitalizations and emergency care, according to one estimate. That's the reason some advocates and health professionals say national health-care reform should include approaches like that of Senior PharmAssist, which coordinates clients' care with doctors and social workers.

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