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