Real-World Impact of Transferring the Dispensing of Hospital-Only Medicines to Community Pharmacies During the COVID-19 Pandemic



In Portugal, the dispensing of most outpatient specialty medicines is performed exclusively through hospital pharmacies and totally financed by the National Health Service. During the COVID-19 first wave, the government allowed the transfer of the dispensing of hospital-only medicines (HOMs) to community pharmacies (CPs). This study aimed to measure the value generated by the intervention of CP in the dispensing of HOM.


A single-arm, before-and-after study with 3-month follow-up was conducted enrolling a randomly selected sample of patients or caregivers with at least 1 dispensation of HOM through CP. Data were collected by telephone interview. Main outcomes were patients’ self-reported adherence (Measure Treatment Adherence), health-related quality of life (EQ-5D 3-Level), satisfaction with the service, and costs related to HOM access.


Overall 603 subjects were recruited to participate in the study (males 50.6%) with mean 55 years old (SD = 16). The already high mean adherence score to therapy improved significantly (P .0001), and no statistically significant change (P > .5757) was found in the mean EQ-5D score between baseline (0.7 ± 0.3) and 3-month follow-up (0.8 ± 0.3). Annual savings account for €262.1/person, arising from travel expenses and absenteeism reduction. Participants reported a significant increase in satisfaction levels in all evaluated domains—pharmacist’s availability, opening hours, waiting time, privacy conditions, and overall experience.


Changing the dispense setting to CP may promote better access and satisfaction. Moreover, it ensures the persistence of treatments, promotes savings for citizens, and reduces the burden of healthcare services, representing a crucial public health measure.


Rodrigo Murteira Sónia Romano Inês Teixeira Carolina Bulhosa Sérgio Sousa Maria Inês Conceição Anabela Fonseca-Silva Humberto Martins António Teixeira Rodrigues

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