Open Access Open Badges Research article

Systematic review on quality control for drug management programs: Is quality reported in the literature?

Anke-Peggy Holtorf1*, Carrie McAdam-Marx1, David Schaaf2, Benjamin Eng3 and Gary Oderda1

Author Affiliations

1 Department of Pharmacotherapy, The University of Utah, Millcreek Outcomes Group, Salt Lake City, UT, USA

2 Primary Care US Medical Affairs, Pfizer Inc., New York, NY, USA

3 Specialty US Medical Affairs, Pfizer Inc., New York, NY, USA

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BMC Health Services Research 2009, 9:38  doi:10.1186/1472-6963-9-38

Published: 25 February 2009



Maintaining quality of care while managing limited healthcare resources is an ongoing challenge in healthcare. The objective of this study was to evaluate how the impact of drug management programs is reported in the literature and to identify potentially existing quality standards.


This analysis relates to the published research on the impact of drug management on economic, clinical, or humanistic outcomes in managed care, indemnity insurance, VA, or Medicaid in the USA published between 1996 and 2007. Included articles were systematically analyzed for study objective, study endpoints, and drug management type. They were further categorized by drug management tool, primary objective, and study endpoints.


None of the 76 included publications assessed the overall quality of drug management tools. The impact of 9 different drug management tools used alone or in combination was studied in pharmacy claims, medical claims, electronic medical records or survey data from either patient, plan or provider perspective using an average of 2.1 of 11 possible endpoints. A total of 68% of the studies reported the impact on plan focused endpoints, while the clinical, the patient or the provider perspective were studied to a much lower degree (45%, 42% and 12% of the studies). Health outcomes were only accounted for in 9.2% of the studies.


Comprehensive assessment of quality considering plan, patient and clinical outcomes is not yet applied. There is no defined quality standard. Benchmarks including health outcomes should be determined and used to improve the overall clinical and economic effectiveness of drug management programs.