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Benefits of Medication Therapy

By July 11, 2013Commentary

A study published in the current Health Affairs discusses medication therapy management.    (Health Affairs Article)   Prescription drugs have become perhaps the most common treatment for many chronic illnesses.  Especially as people age, the number of drugs they use tends to increase.  And despite the ubiquitous nature of treatment by prescription drugs, many physicians are not fully knowledgeable on managing that treatment.  Underdosing, overdosing, using the wrong drug, adverse effects and non-adherence are common problems that limit the effectiveness of drug treatment.  Medication therapy management is a tool that usually utilizes clinical pharmacists to manage and optimize a patient’s drug regimen.  It is mandated to be offered by Medicare Advantage and Part D plans to beneficiaries that have a high level of drug spending and are on multiple drugs.  The study authors focussed on the drug treatment for beneficiaries with diabetes, heart failure and COPD and sought to identify cost savings associated with medication therapy management and whether the right sets of beneficiaries were targeted.  The research suggested that people who consistently adhere to a medication regimen do have lower overall spending than people who don’t have or don’t follow an optimal drug treatment regimen.  The authors also suggest that expanding eligibility for medication therapy management to additional patient cohorts could result in further savings.  But the study did not test actual medication therapy management program results, although other research has suggested it has positive outcomes.

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