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Pharmacy staff profile

Sharmin Bala

PositionPhD Student
DepartmentDepartment of Preventive and Social Medicine (DSM)
QualificationsM.B.B.S (Bachelors in Medicine and Surgery), M.D (Post-graduation in Clinical Pharmacology)
Research summaryAssessing medication appropriateness in the geriatric population of New Zealand
  • Pharmacology
  • Clinical Pharmacy
  • Cessation of smoking module (as part of the University of Otago Interprofessional Education programme)
  • APSA: Australasian Pharmaceutical Science Association
  • ASCEPT:The Australasian Society of Clinical and Experimental Pharmacologists and Toxicologists
  • Indian Pharmacological Society
  • Sir H N Reliance Medical Research Society
  • Stop Gaps Choral Ensemble and Cultural Academy
  • Pharmacoepidemiology
  • Geriatrics
  • Population studies
  • Diabetes
  • Hypertension


The current geriatric population of New Zealand represents 13.3 % of the total population of the country, which is progressively increasing. Older New Zealanders are known to consume the highest number of medications. Several medications have to be prescribed with caution in the elderly due to their compromised biological functions that can impact and reduce drug clearance.

At present, there are no national prescribing indicators to assess the quality of prescribing in the elderly.

The overarching aim of my thesis is to assess medication appropriateness in the geriatric population of New Zealand with a view to develop National Prescribing quality Indicators for the elderly.

The specific objectives are:

  1. To conduct a systematic literature review of the existing prescribing criteria and indicators applicable to the elderly population.
  2. Developing a list of prescribing indicators, which are specific to New Zealand’s healthcare needs.
  3. The Delphi consensus method guided by the systematic literature review will be employed to conduct a structured communication with a panel of experts including geriatricians, clinical pharmacologists, pharmacists, and general practitioners to evaluate the indicators and give their mutual inputs. The selected panel of experts will provide a global coverage expertise in optimising drug therapy in older people.
  4. These indicators will be useful to monitor the quality of prescribing in the elderly.

The implementation of prescribing indicators has the potential to reduce adverse drug outcomes and costs associated with inappropriate prescribing in a vulnerable population of elders.

Sharmin’s primary supervisor is Dr Rhiannon Braund, and co-supervisors are Dr Prasad Nishtala and Dr Hamish Jamieson.