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Press Release

ASHP's Commission on Therapeutics Marks Decade of Leadership on proper use of medications

The close of 1999 marks the 10th year of the ASHP Commission on Therapeutics (COT) and its efforts to foster improved use of medications, particularly in controversial or unsettled areas of therapy. Created in 1989, the COT began its work by developing Therapeutic Guidelines—comprehensive documents guiding the appropriate use of medications. Three years later, the group expanded its reach to address medication treatment issues by creating Therapeutic Position Statements, which cover specific issues with a narrow focus. The COT has developed 17 evidence-based documents since its founding and is responsible for more than 50 percent of the new content of the 1999-2000 edition of ASHP's award-winning reference Best Practices for Health-System Pharmacy. Documents produced by the COT address the prevention of stress-related ulcers in hospitalized patients, antimicrobial prophylaxis before surgical and nonsurgical procedures, and other important issues. Under development is guidance on the use of beta-blockers after heart attacks and a revision of the statement on treating patients with insulin-dependent diabetes mellitus.

Pharmacy's evolution toward a focus on direct patient care provides a critical mandate for the COT, according to Henri R. Manasse, Jr., Ph.D., Sc.D., ASHP executive vice president and chief executive officer. "The COT's work provides pharmacists with the authoritative guidance they need to carry out their roles as medication-use experts." 


Both types of COT documents are developed from an objective assessment of the scientific literature and an extensive external review. Therapeutic Guidelines are systematic analyses developed by drug information experts who work with multidisciplinary expert panels. Therapeutic Position Statements are usually drafted by one or two Society members who focus more narrowly on an important issue in therapeutics. 

"The quality of this group's work is such that we have consistently received praise from health care professionals outside of pharmacy," Manasse said, adding that the Society of Critical Care Medicine and ASHP are jointly revising the existing SCCM Practice Parameters on neuromuscular blockade and analgesia and sedation. To date, four ASHP Therapeutic Guidelines have been added to the National Guideline Clearinghouse, a comprehensive Internet database of clinical practice guidelines established by the Agency for Health Care Policy and Research. 

ASHP is the 30,000-member national professional association that represents pharmacists who practice in hospitals, health maintenance organizations, long-term care facilities, home care, and other components of health care systems. ASHP believes that the mission of pharmacists is to help people make the best use of medications. Assisting pharmacists in fulfilling this mission is ASHP's primary objective. The Society has extensive publishing and educational programs designed to help members improve their delivery of pharmaceutical care, and it is a national accrediting organization for pharmacy residency and pharmacy technician training programs.