National Pharmacist Day

Pharmacist next to two pill bottles
Image Source: Mohamed_hassan/pixabay.com

January 12th is National Pharmacist Day! Pharmacists do so much more than just dispense prescriptions. They have a wealth of knowledge to assist patients with safe medication use, potential drug interactions as well as preventative services and over the counter medications. Take the time this Saturday to thank your pharmacist for everything they do!

Pharmacists are Easily Accessible

Pharmacists are often available when other health care providers are not, and most often do not require you to schedule an appointment to ask questions about your healthcare needs.

Safe and Effective Medication Use

Pharmacists help ensure that medications control conditions the right way. They help minimize any side effects and safeguard against any possible interactions with other medications that lead to more expensive health care costs such as emergency room visits, hospitalization, etc.

OTCs and Supplements

Pharmacists are experts in prescription medications, supplements and over the counter medications. They can tell you about potential interactions with foods, other drugs, or dietary supplements. And they can help you pick the perfect product. With over 100,000 over-the-counter products on the market, your pharmacist is always there to lend a helping hand!1

Tria Health’s Pharmacists

Tria Health was founded on the belief that pharmacists play a vital role in the management of high-risk patients that drive the majority of health care spend. If Tria Health is currently a part of your healthcare plan, call the Tria Health Help desk today for any of your medication-related questions.

Tria Help Desk: 1.888.799.8742

Source:

  1. http://67.222.18.91/~aphm/pharmacists-can-help

How to Set Attainable Resolutions

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The New Year is almost here! While we’re all excited for a fresh start and a chance to make some positive changes, it can be easy for our resolutions to fall astray if we don’t properly prepare. We want to help you along your journey and increase the likelihood of your resolutions sticking. Building healthy habits can change your life and decrease the chance of you getting a chronic condition. Follow these steps to help you set and keep your resolutions.

  1. Choose a Realistic Resolution: As much as we’d all like to be able to become expert guitar plays or marathon runners, it’s not always attainable within a year. It’s important to set realistic goals to increase the likelihood of achieving them. So maybe instead of becoming a marathon runner, your goal is to start running once a week.
  2. Focus on One Goal at a Time: While you might be able to accomplish all your goals, you’ll increase your success if you instead focus on one or maybe two main goals.
  3. Break it down: Now that you have your goal in mind, it’s time to break it down and plan. If we’re sticking with our running example, that means planning one day a week to run. Start small and then throughout the year work up to maybe running 2-3 times a week.  
  4. Find Support: A support system can be essential to meeting your goals. Having someone to hold you accountable can help give you the push you need. But make sure if you ask for someone’s help, you’re specific in what you’re asking of them. Whether it be words of affirmation or a gym buddy, you need to be clear for it to be beneficial.
  5. Don’t Give Up: Mistakes will happen, just remember that one mistake doesn’t have to derail your goals. Learn, adapt and overcome the challenges you face.

Resolution Ideas for Medication Health

Improving your medication health is a great resolution idea. to keep you healthy in the new year. Here’s what you can do:

  • Review all your medications with your pharmacist at least once a year. Having an expert review your medications will keep you healthy. Even if your medications don’t change, changes in your body and your reaction to medications can impact medication effectiveness over time.
  • Carry your medication list with you and review your list with other health care providers at your appointments. Many times, health care providers might not have visibility into your medication regimen. Having this information can ensure better health care decision making.
  • Make sure you are up to date with vaccinations and preventative screenings.  Early detection is key to effective treatment and can mean life or death…literally.
  • Follow all diet and exercise recommendations from your health care team.
  • Schedule and attend all yearly physicals and checkups

Questions?

If your health plan includes Tria Health, you can talk with a clinically trained pharmacist and receive a customized care plan. This includes recommendations for medication adjustments, preventative services and lifestyle modifications. Tria’s pharmacist will be able to help you achieve your goals and improve your health.

Visit www.triahealth.com to learn more.

Drug Interactions – Be Prepared & Stay Aware

Man pouring out one pill from bottle
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Are you currently taking a prescription medication? Per the government’s National Health Survey, about 20 percent of adults are taking three or more drugs. While most patients are aware of potential side effects with prescription medication, it’s important to be aware of combining certain drugs and other substances. Being aware of drug interactions can help prevent serious side effects and help ensure medication effectiveness.  

 What Factors Impact Interactions?1

Unfortunately, it is hard to predicts all drug interactions and you won’t always know how you’ll react to a certain medication. The likelihood of interaction causing problems can depend on several factors including:

  • Genetics
  • Age
  • Lifestyle (Diet & Exercise)
  • Other medical conditions
  • The length of time both drugs are taken

Types of Drug Interactions

  • Drug-Drug: There are a multitude of side effects that can occur from drug-drug interactions as there are so many possible drug combinations. Drug-drug interactions can lead to a prescription medication losing effectiveness, allowing for a disease-state to go unmanaged or it can lead to dangerous side effects like heart damage or death.
  • Drug-Food/Beverage: Certain foods can affect the medications you take but medicine can also affect how your body digests and processes food.
  • Drug-Supplement: A common misconception with supplements is just because they’re natural, doesn’t mean they’re safe. Supplements can change how the body absorbs, metabolizes or excretes drugs and influence how potent the drug is in the system.

Simple steps to avoid drug interactions

  • Talk with your doctor and pharmacist about any new medications. Make sure they know about any vitamins and supplements you are currently taking.
  • Follow all the dosing instructions listed on each of your medications.
  • Keep an updated medication list on hand for any of your medical appointments.
  • You can also use AARP’s online drug interaction checker

Tria Health can help

If Tria Health is offered through your benefits plan, you have the option of receiving a one-on-one private consultation with one of Tria Health’s pharmacists over the phone. During your consultation, your pharmacist will review all your current medications, including vitamins and supplements. Tria Health will assist you in identifying any possible drug interactions or savings opportunities!

Source:

  1. https://www.drugwatch.com/health/drug-interactions/

Genetic Testing & Medication Effectiveness – It’s Cool, But Does It Work?

Row of Microscopes on a Table
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In October, the FDA cleared the first DNA test meant to be marketed directly to consumers to help them determine how well certain drugs may work for them.1 The DNA test, conducted by 23andME, provides information on 33 genetic variants that the company say are associated with how patients respond to more than 50 commonly prescribed prescription and over-the-counter medications. While this test is the first consumer directed to be cleared by the FDA, expect to see more in the coming years as pharmacogenetics becomes more mainstream. But the big question is…does it really work?

Background:  What is Pharmacogenetics?

Pharmacogenetics or pharmacogenomics is the study of how genetics impact pharmacology. Pharmacogenetic (PGx) testing is used for determining how an individual will respond to a particular medicine.2 With this type of testing, clinicians would be able to provide a personalized medication plan, rather that prescribing based off the average population. This helps avoid trial and error in finding optimal dosages.

What are the caveats?

The FDA’s marketing authorization came with crucial caveats. The agency cautioned that the test cannot assess whether a drug is appropriate, or gauge a patient’s ability to respond to any specific medication.3 This essentially means that a patient still needs a clinician’s insight in finding the correct medication, but utilizing the results of a DNA test can assist in the dosing process. Pricing can also vary with DNA testing. In many cases, the costs may not outweigh the benefits.

Questions?

If your health plan includes Tria Health, you can talk with a clinically trained pharmacist and review all your current medications (prescription, over the counter and supplements). Tria Health’s pharmacists will help make sure your medications are effectively treating your condition(s) and identify any cost savings opportunities.

Sources:

  1. https://www.fda.gov/NewsEvents/Newsroom/PressAnnouncements/ucm624753.htm  
  2. http://www.rxeconsult.com/healthcare-articles/Overview-Of-Pharmacogenetic-PGx-Testing-Benefits-Costs-And-Role-In-Personalized-Medicine-853/
  3. https://www.statnews.com/2018/10/31/fda-clears-23-and-me-genetics-test-drug-effectiveness/

Is It Time to Stop One of Your Meds?

Pills on Table
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According to a new study released by the journal Annals of Family Medicine, nearly half of people who take certain types of prescription drugs continue taking them for longer than is recommended or safe. The prescription drugs include antidepressants, proton pump inhibitors (PPIs) and bisphosphonates (osteoporosis and bone density treatments).1 Most of these medications are only meant to be taken for a certain period, otherwise they can become less effective, less useful, or can lead to more serious side effects.

How Does This Happen?

The authors of this study attribute some of the results to “legacy prescribing”, a situation that occurs when doctors who start someone on a prescription for a good reason may later renew it without a full assessment of whether or not it’s still needed. Per Nitin S. Damle, M.D., past president of the American College of Physicians and a physician in private practice in Rhode Island, “If there’s no follow-up and [patients’] prescriptions are just renewed electronically, there’s very little thought as to whether they need to be on it or not.”

What’s the Risk?

One of the biggest potential dangers of continuing a prescription for too long is that every on going prescription increases thechances of drugs interacting and causing a harmful reaction.2 There is also an increased risk in side effects and unnecessary costs due to non-optimized medication therapy.

What Should You Do?

If you’re worried about your current medication regime, here are a few tips to help you feel confident in what you’re taking:

  • Discuss all your current medications with your doctor, at least once a year.
    • If you have multiple doctors, it can be difficult to ensure they’re all on the same page. At your annual checkup, talk to your primary doctor about all your current medications.
  • Talk to your doctor about reducing your medications
    • While your doctor will know what dosage is best for you, it never hurts to have a yearly discussion to see if you can lower any of your medication dosages. This helps in combating legacy prescribing.
  • If your health plan includes Tria Health, you can talk with a clinically trained pharmacist and review all your current medications (prescription, over the counter and supplements). Tria Health’s pharmacists will help make sure your medications are effectively treating your condition(s) and identify and cost savings opportunities.

For more tips, click here.

Have any Questions?

Contact the Tria Health Help Desk at 1.888.799.8742

Sources:

  1. https://www.consumerreports.org/drugs/should-you-stop-taking-that-medication/?EXTKEY=AMSNLF01
  2. https://www.msn.com/en-us/health/healthyliving/should-you-still-be-taking-that-medicine/ar-BBPDpo6?li=BBnba9O