The Cost of Non-Optimized Medications

Money within a Pill
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Did you know, if the drugs you’re taking are wrong, skipped, or make you sick, there’s the possibility of incurring additional cost? A recent study published by The University of California – San Diego estimated that the current cost of each possible consequence and estimated total annual cost of illnesses and deaths that result from non-optimized medication therapy to be $528.4 billion. They estimated that the average cost of an individual experiencing treatment failure, a new medical problem or both after initial prescription use to be approximately $2,500.

How do Non-Optimized Medications lead to additional cost?

Here’s an example of non-optimized medications: You are diagnosed with asthma and your doctor prescribes you with a rescue inhaler. When you go to fill your prescription, you discover that the copay is too expensive for your budget and you choose not to purchase it. You later suffer from an asthma attack and must go to the hospital. You’re now stuck with a very expensive medical bill.

This isn’t the only example in which you could incur additional costs, sometimes medications lead to side-effects resulting in the need for added treatment.

What can we do to solve this?

The University of California – San Diego’s study reached the conclusion that to improve medication-related care, we need to expand comprehensive medication management programs, in which clinical pharmacists have access to complete medical records, improved dialogue with other members of a patient’s health care team and input as a medication is prescribed — similar to what is now taking place at many U.S. Veterans Affairs clinics.

How can Tria Health help?

Tria Health provides one-on-one consultations with pharmacists, allowing you to review all your medications and make sure everything is safe, affordable and effective.

Visit to learn more!


Source: Jonathan H. Watanabe, Terry McInnis, Jan D. Hirsch. Cost of Prescription Drug–Related Morbidity and Mortality. Annals of Pharmacotherapy, 2018; 106002801876515 DOI: 10.1177/1060028018765159

Tria Health: March Ask a Pharmacist Edition

Ask a Pharmacist

Thanks to the Tria Health Help Desk, patients may ask pharmacists any medication-related questions. We’d like to share with you some frequently asked questions and the pharmacists’ answers

Question: Is it OK to take leftover antibiotics to treat a current infection?

Answer: No! The antibiotic might not treat the type infection that you have and might not be the full course of therapy required. Additionally, taking antibiotics inappropriately may also cause antibiotic resistance, making it harder to treat future infections.

Question: How do I know what kind of vitamins I should take?

Answer: It would depend on your diet, lifestyle, and other medical conditions. Taking a multivitamin is a great place to start. If you have concerns about being vitamin deficient, talk with your doctor about checking certain vitamin levels.

Question: Which over-the-counter allergy products are safe to use during pregnancy?

Answer: Both Zyrtec and Claritin are safe to use during pregnancy. Make sure these products do not carry any other active ingredients, like pseudoephedrine. Talk with your doctor or your Tria pharmacist before starting any over the counter allergy product.

Question: I recently started a new medication and have had a stomach ache ever since. Am I allergic to the drug?

Answer: Stomach aches are not a sign or symptom of a medication allergy. It is usually a side effect of the drug. Try to take the medication with food to help avoid stomach upset.


Do YOU have a question for our pharmacists?

Enroll with Tria Health and schedule your appointment today!

Call 1.888.799.8742 or visit

Drug Take Back Day is TOMORROW, October 28th!

Prescription Drugs
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Tria Health is promoting the DEA’s Drug Take Back Day which is tomorrow October 28th, 2017 from 10am – 2pm.  To find a location near you, go to DEA Diversion website.

Disposing of medications safely can help protect your family from getting or using medications that are expired or out of date; prevent the illegal use of unused medications and minimize any potential negative impact on the environment. For this reason, the DEA is giving the public an opportunity to dispose of unwanted and/or expired prescription drugs. This is a FREE and anonymous service—take medications back, no questions asked!

What You Should Know  

The DEA can ONLY accept pills or patches. The DEA CANNOT accept liquids, needles or sharps.

Last April, Americans turned in over 450 tons (900,000 pounds) of prescription drugs at almost 5,500 sites operated by the DEA and more than 4,200 of its state and local law enforcement partners.

This initiative addresses both public safety and health concerns. Prescription medications left to expire in people’s homes are susceptible to misuse or abuse. Prescription drug abuse rates and overdose and accidental poisoning statistics are frighteningly high in the United States. Studies show that the majority or abused prescription drugs are obtained from family and friends, or from home medicine cabinets.

The DEA now advises against “usual methods” for disposing of unused medications. Flushing medications down the toilet or throwing them in the trash now both pose potential safety and health concerns.

Where to Find More Information

For more information about the disposal of prescription drugs or about the October 28, 2017 Drug Take Back Day event, to the DEA Diversion website

Opioid Abuse in the News

News on opioid overdoses and prescription and illegal opioid abuse is staggering.  Roughly 50 Americans die of an opioid overdose every day.  In March, President Obama unveiled a proposal to increase funding to provide the much needed help for those who are addicted.

Part of this new program will increase access and availability to the opioid reversal medication called, Naloxone.  This medication can help reduce overdose fatalities.  Naloxone is currently available by prescription only (Evzio auto-injector and Narcan nasal spray) for patients or families to use in the event of an overdose.  Naloxone can be prescribed to patients taking high doses of opioids for chronic pain that are not addicted, but are concerned for their safety and/or the safety of those close to them in the event of an accidental overdose.

All states, except for Missouri, have prescription drug monitoring programs (PMDPs) in place that help pharmacists identify abuse patterns and curtail diversion. Pharmacists in several states are being given the authorization to fill Naloxone without a prescription.  Pharmacists can also assist patients that are interested in tapering down or off their prescription opioids.  Other medications as well as non-pharmaceutical options are available that can help reduce the need for opioids.

To read more about the President’s proposal click on the following link:

For more information about opioid epidemic check out the National Institute on Drug Abuse.

To get treatment for opioid addiction call 1-800-662-HELP (4357)

Managing the Cost of Specialty

Specialty: this buzz word is stirring up the health care industry. With everyone talking about these high dollar medications, we wanted to provide some education about how you can manage specialty costs.

What are Specialty Drug Products?
Specialty drug products are used to treat complex chronic conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis, HIV, Hepatitis C and multiple sclerosis.

The Good News…
These ground breaking therapies continue to make great advances for improved patient quality of life, better management of disease states, and in some cases, curing the disease altogether. And for employers, this means increased health care savings (due to lower medical claims) and improved productivity (due to better disease management).

The Bad News…
The expense associated with these diseases and therapies is significant, and causing sticker shock. The use of specialty drugs for employer groups is expected to quadruple by 2020. This leads us to the very popular questions surrounding specialty: How do we begin to swallow these large numbers associated with chronic care? What solutions are available to help with managing specialty costs?

Effectively Managing Specialty Costs:
Protecting your company’s investment in its chronic plan population begins with ensuring appropriate use of these high dollar medications.

Two Key Components for Effective Specialty Management = 

#1  Prior Authorization:
It is important to have strong clinical prior authorizations in place from your PBM to ensure that the right individual is getting the right drug.

#2   Patient Education & Chronic Care Guidance:
Provide your plan members with the necessary tools to reach the goals they need to achieve with those medications. Pharmacists are an excellent resource to assist with working with patients who are taking specialty medications.  Tria Health
pharmacists are credentialed and trained to help with these types of situations.

Jessica Lea, Pharm.D., MBA

If you feel unprepared for the rising (and expensive) trend of specialty medications, let Tria Health help you implement a solution to reduce the cost and improve the efficacy of these expensive medications.

Written by:
Jessica Lea, Pharm.D., MBA
President & CEO, Tria Health