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COPD is characterised by a progressive airflow limitation in the lungs. However, adherence to therapy improves management of symptoms and delays disease progression. Therefore, patients' knowledge and awareness about the disease are important. Hence, pharmacist-led educational interventions could achieve this and improve medication adherence.This study evaluated the effectiveness of a clinical pharmacist-led intervention on medication adherence in COPD patients in a teaching hospital.In an open-labelled randomized controlled study at Kasturba Medical College Hospital, Manipal, India, patients were randomly assigned to two groups (Intervention group [IG] and Control group [CG]), and were matched for socio-demographics and clinical characteristics. Medication adherence was assessed by the Morisky, Green and Levine Medication Adherence Questionnaire (MAQ). In IG, pharmacist intervention placed emphasis on (1) compliance, (2) smoking cessation, (3) exercise, (4) inhaler use and (5) need for timely follow up. The MAQ assessment was repeated at 6, 12, 18 and 24 months. Data were analysed statistically by SPSS version 20.0.Out of 328 patients screened during March 2012 to June 2013, 260 were recruited. Of these, 206 completed the follow-up (98 in CG and 104 in IG). Medication adherence improved significantly after pharmacist intervention in IG at all follow-up time points (P < 0.001). It increased from 49% at the baseline to 80% after 24 months (P < 0.001). Carelessness about taking medicines was one of the main reasons for non-adherence in COPD patients, but was effectively reduced by the intervention.This is the first randomized controlled trial in India that demonstrates the pivotal role of pharmacist-led educational intervention in improving medication adherence in COPD. Involving non-physician health professionals could be the best strategy, for resource-poor nations like India, because the current physician-centric healthcare has no emphasis on patient education and counselling.