Sunburn Easily? It Might be Your Medications

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We’re all aware that most medications can have a variety of side effects, but did you know that one of them can be an increased sensitivity to the sun? There are a multitude of medications that can increase your risk of sunburn or even cause photosensitivity. Summer is here, so be sure you’re prepared to stay safe in the sun!

How can a medication increase your sensitivity to the sun?1

Photosensitivity is a reaction set off by the sun’s ultraviolet rays and can result in two different reactions.

  • Phototoxic Reaction: Occurs when UV radiation reacts with a drug to form compounds that damage the skin.
    • Results: Sunburn-like symptoms
  • Photoallergic Reaction: This is less common, but usually happens when UV light changes a substance applied to the skin, causing an immune response.
    • Results: Bumps, hives, blisters, or red blotches

What are some common drugs that cause sunburns?

  • Antibiotics
  • Antiarrhythmics (cardiac drugs)
  • Diuretics (used to treat hypertension, heart failure or edema)
  • NSAID (Ibuprofen or naproxen)
  • Acne Medications

For a detailed list, click here

How to prevent sun sensitivity2

  • Check Your Meds: Check prescription medications to see if sun sensitivity is listed as a side effect.
  • Hydrate: Drink plenty of water!
  • Cover Up: Use sunscreen, wear protective clothing or try to stay in the shade as much as you can!

Questions?

Call the Tria Health Help Desk at 1.888.799.8742

Sources:

  1. https://www.webmd.com/skin-problems-and-treatments/features/beware-of-sunburn-boosters#1
  2. https://www.consumerreports.org/drugs/can-your-meds-make-you-more-sensitive-to-sun-and-heat/
  3. https://www.medicinenet.com/sun-sensitive_drugs_photosensitivity_to_drugs/article.htm#list_of_examples_of_medications_that_cause_phototoxicitcy

Medication Travel Tips

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It’s time for some fun in the sun, vacation season is here! While relaxing on the beach sounds like a great way to spend a week, getting there can be stressful especially if you have a chronic condition. It’s hard to keep all the airport regulations straight, and we know you want to get through as fast as possible. Here are some helpful tips to get your medications packed and ready to go for your well-deserved vacation!

Planning Ahead

Make sure to check your medication supply in advance. It’s important to give yourself and your pharmacy enough time to refill your medication if you’re running low. If you’re taking a long trip, and your insurance provider will not issue extra doses to you, talk to your physician. Your doctor should be able to work with your insurance company and pharmacy to get you the extra medications you need. If you take any over-the-counter medications, be sure you have enough of them on hand, too.1

Schedule your Dosing

Time changes can impact when you need to take your medications. You can always talk with your doctor or your pharmacist to create a dosage schedule. It can also help to set an alarm on your phone to help you keep track of your dosage times and wake up during the night.

TSA Requirements2

  • TSA does not require passengers to have medications in prescription bottles, but states have individual laws regarding the labeling of prescription medication with which passengers need to comply.
  • You can bring your medication in pill or solid form in unlimited amounts as long as it is screened.
  • Medication in liquid form is allowed in carry-on bags in excess of 3.4 ounces in reasonable quantities for the flight. It is not necessary to place medically required liquids in a zip-top bag. However, you must tell the officer that you have medically necessary liquids at the start of the screening checkpoint process. Medically required liquids will be subject to additional screening that could include being asked to open the container.
  • You can travel with your medication in both carry-on and checked baggage. It’s highly recommended you place these items in your carry-on in the event that you need immediate access.

Tria Health is Here to Help

Have any questions regarding your medications and traveling? 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 can answer any of your medication-related questions.

Sources:

  1. https://www.tripsavvy.com/tips-for-traveling-with-prescription-drugs-2972759
  2. https://www.tsa.gov/travel/travel-tips/can-you-pack-your-meds-pill-case-and-more-questions-answered

Is it Time to Deprescribe?

Man pouring out one pill from bottle
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It’s important to review your current medication regimen on a yearly basis with a clinician. Older adults are taking a multitude of pills, with 66 percent taking five or more and 27 percent taking 10 or more.1 Some of these medications may not even be necessary anymore. While most people rely on their primary physician, “physicians often don’t have enough information about what patients are taking, or may lack the time to talk to patients about these medications.”1 So who can patients talk to about their medications? Pharmacists.

One in Five Older Adults are on an Inappropriate Medication

While medications can be extremely beneficial in managing chronic conditions, taking multiple medications at once can create some risk. About one-third of adverse events in hospitalizations include a drug-related harm, leading to longer hospital stays and greater expense. The National Academy of Medicine estimated that there are 400,000 preventable adverse drug events in hospitals each year, costing $3.5 billion. At least one in five older patients are on an inappropriate medication — one that they can do without or that can be switched to a different, safer drug.2

Pharmacist Involvement Improves Overall Care

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. There have been a multitude of studies conducted over the years measuring patient improvement when a pharmacist is included as part of the care team working with the physician. In a recent study, published in JAMA, patients were randomly assigned to two groups. With one group, pharmacists gave both patients and their physicians educational materials on the specific drug that might have been inappropriately prescribed. The control group got the usual care, with no educational materials. Within six months, 43 percent of the patients in the intervention group had stopped taking one of the selected medicines. The corresponding figure was 12 percent in the control group.

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.

Sources:

  1. https://www.nytimes.com/2019/01/28/upshot/pharmacists-drugs-health-unsung-role.html?register=google
  2. https://www.nytimes.com/2017/04/10/upshot/how-many-pills-are-too-many.html?module=inline

Herbal/Prescription Interaction Awareness Month

Pills on Counter
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July is Herbal/Prescription Interaction Awareness Month. A common misconception with herbal supplements is that because they are “all-natural” it is safe to take. This is especially true for people who may be taking prescription medications. The main purpose of the public health and awareness campaign is to inform the public that herbal supplements can cause potentially dangerous drug interactions when taken with certain medications.

Are Herbal Supplements Safe?1

While herbal supplements are not regulated by the FDA as drugs or as foods, they do fall under a category called dietary supplements. It is important to note that the level of regulation and criteria for dietary supplements is not as stringent as it is for food and drug products. The dietary supplement regulations ensure that herbal supplements meet certain quality standards and that the FDA can intervene to remove dangerous products from the market. However, these products can pose unexpected risks because many supplements contain active ingredients that have strong effects in the body. For example, taking a combination of herbal supplements or using supplements together with prescribed medications could lead to harmful, even life-threatening results.

How Herbs Can Interact with Medicines?2

Unfortunately, for many medicines and supplements there’s currently little information on possible interactions, and more research is needed. Some supplements can decrease the effects of medicines, while others can increase the effects, including unwanted side effects, of medicines. Here are a few examples of well-known drug interactions:

  • St. John’s Wort: St. John’s wort interacts with a large number of medications, including antidepressants, allergy drugs, birth control, and warfarin. In most cases, St. John’s wort decreases the effectiveness of the medication; in other cases, however, St. John’s wort may increase the effects of a medication.3
  • Garlic Extract: Concentrated garlic extracts can thin the blood in a manner similar to aspirin, which may be a problem during or after surgery.
  • Green Tea Supplements: Concentrated green tea supplements can interact with pseudoephedrine (a decongestant).

Herbal Supplement Safety Tips

  • If you’re currently taking prescription medications and thinking about starting an herbal supplement, always talk to your doctor or pharmacist first about possible drug interactions.
  • Follow supplement instructions
  • Stick to brands that have been tested by independent sources
  • Keep track of any alerts or advisories. The FDA will notify the public of any supplements that have been reported to cause adverse effects or contain undeclared ingredients.

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!

Sources:

  1. https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/nutrition-and-healthy-eating/in-depth/herbal-supplements/art-20046714
  2. https://nccih.nih.gov/health/tips/herb-drug
  3. https://www.stlukes-stl.com/health-content/medicine/33/000931.htm

Do Risk Reduction Programs Work?

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For self-insured employers, heart disease and diabetes are considered significant hindrances in the effort to improve employee health while reducing overall healthcare costs. Heart disease is the leading cause of death for both men and women and about 9.4% of Americans are diagnosed with diabetes. In order to control cost and help employees, employers typically look to disease state management programs. While many of these programs seem beneficial, the durability and long-term effects have limited evaluation.

What is a disease management program?

Disease management programs (DMPs) are structured treatment plans that aim to help people better manage their chronic disease and to maintain and improve quality of life. DMPs are also run with the general goal of improving medical treatment in the long term. Disease management programs also aim to improve cooperation between the various specialists and institutions that provide care for a patient, such as family and specialist doctors, hospitals and rehabilitation centers.1

What are the long-term outcomes of a DMP?2

A recent study published in the NCBI had the main objective of assessing the 5-year health, economic, and quality-of-life patient outcomes of an employer-sponsored disease state management program. The program included one-on-one appointments with a pharmacist that included medication therapy management, implementation and adherence to 7 personalized lifestyle medicine programs (ie, physical activity, healthy eating, stress management, restorative sleep, moderate alcohol consumption, tobacco abstinence/cessation, and weight control), and chronic disease care coordination practices.

The results of the study identified:

  • Decreased low-density lipoprotein cholesterol levels: 96.71 mg/dL vs 84.83 mg/dL, respectively
  • Increased high-density lipoprotein cholesterol levels: 39.32 mg/dL vs 46.12 mg/dL
  • Decreased systolic blood pressure: 132.04 mm Hg vs 123.63 mm Hg
  • Average exercise time increased: 50 minutes weekly vs 156.04 minutes weekly
  • The combined healthcare and productivity return on investment for the program at 5 years was $9.64 for every $1 invested.

What is the difference between a Disease Management program and the Chronic Condition Management Program offered by Tria Health?

Tria Health started as a disease management program and has its foundation there, but many disease management programs are focused one particular disease state versus the program offered by Tria Health which is patient-centered. Most patients have more than one chronic condition, so taking a ‘patient-centered’ approach improves overall care and costs.

Interested in improving your employee’s health?

Tria Health offers Chronic Condition Management through our Pharmacy Advocate Program. Clinical Pharmacists provide one-on-one telephonic counseling for members and are their personal advocate to help them navigate through the health care system. Through reviewing a member’s medications and lifestyle, including their sleep habits, Tria Pharmacists can make recommendations that will help control their chronic conditions and help them feel better!

Sources:

  1. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK279412/
  2. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6207306/