Is It Time to Stop One of Your Meds?

Pills on Table
Image Source: Rawpixel/Unsplash

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



Proton Pump Inhibitors

Heartburn isn’t fun—anyone who has had it will tell you that it can be very painful. Heartburn, also known as acid indigestion or acid reflux, is a burning sensation in the central chest or upper central abdomen. The pain sometimes rises in the chest and may radiate to the neck, throat or angle of the jaw.

Physicians will often prescribe a Proton Pump Inhibitor (PPI) to treat chronic heartburn symptoms for their patients. However, these medications are also available over-the-counter, without the careful watch of a physician. Unfortunately, this could be potentially dangerous.

In 2010, the FDA issued a safety announcement about PPI’s that stated while PPI’s are effective in treating a variety of gastrointestinal disorders, the long-term use of PPI’s may be harmful to the body.

The FDA wants consumers and healthcare professionals to be aware that for many conditions including simple heartburn, PPI’s should only be taken as directed for 14 days, no more than three 14-day treatment courses in one year. Chronic daily use of PPI’s should be limited to serious gastrointestinal disorders such as recurrent bleeding stomach ulcers or erosive esophagitis. If you are taking an over-the-counter PPI, you should carefully read and follow the enclosed instructions.

At Tria Health, our pharmacists discuss all medications a patient may be taking—both prescription and over-the-counter. Our pharmacists review PPI use to determine appropriateness of therapy and identify patients that are good candidates for drug discontinuation.  We then work with their physicians to confirm if discontinuation is appropriate and recommend alternative treatment options, when needed.

Your friends at Tria Health want to ensure your safety. If you have been taking a PPI long-term, please talk to your physician or pharmacist.