ASCP Fact Sheet

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The American Society of Consultant Pharmacists is the international professional association representing consultant and senior care pharmacists, providing leadership, education, advocacy, and resources to advance the practice of senior care pharmacy. Consultant and senior care pharmacists are essential participants in the health care system, recognized and valued for the practice of pharmaceutical care for the senior population and people with chronic illness.

Senior Care Facts

  • Today there are over 43.1 million adults aged 65 and older in the United States; by 2040, that number will rise to 79.7 million.
  • Seniors represent 13.7% of the United States population, about 1 in 7 Americans.
  • Nearly 92% of older adults have at least one chronic condition, and 77% have at least two.
  • Some type of disability (e.g. difficulty in hearing, vision, cognition, ambulation, self-care, or independent living) was reported by 36% of adults aged 65 and over in 2012.

Source: Administration on Aging, 2012; Center for Disease Control and Prevention, 2012; National Council on Aging, 2014

For millions of senior citizens and individuals with chronic illnesses, consultant and senior care pharmacists play a vital role in ensuring optimal drug therapy. In their role as medication therapy experts, consultant and senior care pharmacists take responsibility for their patients’ medication-related needs; ensure that their patients’ medications are the most appropriate, the most effective, the safest possible, and are used correctly; and identify, resolve, and prevent medication-related problems that may interfere with the goals of therapy. Consultant and senior care pharmacists manage and improve drug therapy and improve the quality of life of the senior population and other individuals residing in a variety of environments, including hospitals, nursing facilities, subacute care and assisted living facilities, psychiatric hospitals, hospice, and home- and community-based care. ASCP supports consultant and senior care pharmacy practice and practitioners through the development of standards, guidelines, and policies relevant to geriatric pharmacotherapy and senior care pharmacy; by influencing legislation, regulation, and health care policy to foster and create a favorable professional and business environment for consultant and senior care pharmacists; and by encouraging productive and collaborative relationships with other professional organizations, provider groups, and political and lay organizations concerned with the health care of older persons.

Senior Care Pharmacy

While medications are probably the single most important factor in improving the quality of life for older Americans, the nation’s seniors are especially at risk for medication-related problems due to physiological changes of aging, higher incidence of multiple chronic diseases and conditions, and greater consumption of prescription and over-the-counter medications.

"Any symptom in an elderly patient should be considered a drug side effect until proven otherwise." -- J. Gurwitz et al. Brown University
Long-Term Care Quality Letter, 1995.

The economic impact of medication-related problems in persons over the age of 65 now rivals that of Alzheimer’s disease, cancer, cardiovascular disease, and diabetes. Medication-related problems are estimated to be one of the top five causes of death in that age group, and a major cause of confusion, depression, falls, disability, and loss of independence. For more than a generation, consultant pharmacists have dedicated themselves to protecting the health of our most vulnerable, often forgotten citizens–residents of nursing facilities. Today, the senior care pharmacists ASCP represents are patient advocates for all of our nation’s senior population, wherever they reside.

Estimated Annual Cost of Medication Related Problems

  • In the community population, medication-related problems cost $177.4 billion a year.

Source: Ernst F. R., A. J. Grizzle. Drug-related morbidity and mortality: updating the cost-of-illness model. J Am Pharm Assoc 2001;41:192–9.

  • Hospital admissions cost $121.5 billion
  • Long-term care admissions cost $32.8 billion
  • Physician visits cost $13.8 billion
  • Emergency department visits cost $5.8 billion
  • Additional treatments cost $3.5 billion
  • An additional $24 billion is spent on medication-related problems in other settings
  • $20 billion in acute care facilities, such as hospitals

Source: Bates D. W., Spell N., Cullen D. J. et al. The costs of adverse drug events in hospitalized patients. JAMA 1997;277:307–11.

  • $4 billion in nursing homes

Source: Bootman J. L., Harrison D. L., Cox E.. The health care cost of drug-related morbidity and mortality in nursing facilities. Arch Int Med 1997;157:2089–96.

Consultant Pharmacy Practice

Consultant and senior care pharmacists are committed to caring for the well-being of each individual, taking into account the complex interrelationships between disease states, nutrition, medications, and other variables. They are essential players on the health care team, and influential decision-makers in all aspects of drug therapy. Consultant and senior care pharmacists counsel patients, provide information and recommendations to prescribers and caregivers, review patients’ drug regimens, present in-service educational programs, and oversee medication distribution services. In addition to these basic responsibilities, consultant and senior care pharmacists provide a wide range of other primary care services to the nation’s seniors, including pain management counseling, pharmacokinetic dosing services, intravenous therapy, nutrition assessment and support, and durable medical equipment. The groundbreaking ASCP-sponsored Fleetwood Project, the preliminary results of which were published in the Archives of Internal Medicine, provides a clear picture of the enormous impact of consultant pharmacist services in achieving optimal therapeutic outcomes and reducing medication-related problems. The Fleetwood study found that consultant pharmacists’ drug regimen review services in the nation’s nursing facilities improve therapeutic outcomes by 43% and save as much as $3.6 billion annually in costs associated with medication-related problems.

Senior Care Pharmacy Facts

  • Adverse drug reactions are among the top five greatest threats to the health of seniors.

Source: Taskforce on Aging Research Funding (PDF)

  • Seniors have more chronic diseases and multiple conditions, so they use more prescription and over-the-counter drugs. More than 77% of seniors between the ages of 65 and 79 suffer from one or more chronic diseases. The number rises to 85% for those over age 80.

Source: Hwang W.,. Weller W, Ireys H., Anderson G. Out of pocket medical spending for care of chronic conditions. Health Affairs 2001;6: 267–78.

  • Seniors represent just over 13% of the population, but consume 40% of prescription drugs and 35% of all over the counter drugs
  • On average, individuals 65 to 69 years old take nearly 14 prescriptions per year, individuals aged 80 to 84 take an average of 18 prescriptions per year
  • 15% to 25% of drug use in seniors is considered unnecessary or otherwise inappropriate
  • Adverse drug reactions and noncompliance are responsible for 28% of hospitalizations of the elderly
  • 36% of all reported adverse drug reactions involve an elderly individual
  • Each year 32,000 seniors suffer hip fractures caused by medication-related problems

Source: Food and Drug Administration Report, 1996

ASCP: Serving the Needs of a Dynamic Profession

The American Society of Consultant Pharmacists was founded in 1969 to represent the interests of its members and promote safe and effective medication therapy for the nation’s seniors. The organization has grown dramatically over the past quarter century and its membership continues to diversify. Today ASCP has chapters in 20 states and Canada, 31 state affiliates, and hundreds of international members in 18 countries. As consultant and senior care pharmacists’ practice activities expand and diversify, so does their need for innovative programs, information, and resources. ASCP is strongly committed to meeting these needs.

Policy and Advocacy

ASCP protects the interests of consultant and senior care pharmacists and their patients in lobbying and congressional testimony on Capitol Hill, with federal regulatory agencies, and with state legislatures. The Society tracks and analyzes hundreds of legislative and regulatory developments nationwide, and maintains an effective political presence through the ASCP-PAC and the Advocacy Fund.


ASCP members receive several publications, including: The Consultant Pharmacist®, the Society’s award-winning monthly journal, presenting peer-reviewed clinical research, news, and practice management information; and the ASCP Brief enewlsetter.

Practice Resources

To help consultant pharmacists succeed in a demanding and changing health care environment, ASCP offers a broad array of manuals, texts, videotapes, CDs, DVDs and software programs. These include resources such as the Geriatric Medication Handbook, and Passing Medications: Medication Administration Video Series.

Senior Care Pharmacy Facts

  • In 2011, 1.5 million adults aged 65 and older lived in an institutional setting such as a nursing home (1.3 million).

Source: Administration on Aging, 2010; Administration on Aging, 2012

The ASCP Foundation funds, coordinates, and conducts a wide range of traineeships and research programs in long-term care and geriatric health care. Since its inception in 1992, the ASCP Foundation has provided more than $250,000 to fund such programs. ASCP offers many opportunities for ACPE-accredited continuing education at its Spring Conference, Annual Meeting, and other regional and chapter-sponsored meetings, seminars, and workshops.

"Medications are probably the single most important health care technology in preventing illness, disability, and death in the geriatric population."
Source:  J. Avorn. "Medication Use and the Elderly: Current Status and Opportunities. Health Affairs, Spring 1995

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