Medication Therapy Management helps avail the health risks associated with using multiple medications

One of the many challenges facing elders today is adverse drug events related to the combined effects of taking multiple prescription and over-the-counter medications. The results often lead to, among other things, an increase in hospital visits, emergency calls and fall risk.

To address this challenge, Medication Therapy Management (MTM) programs offer comprehensive medication reviews with tailored recommendations for the patients and their health care providers. MTM provides an effective means to identify and reduce the risks of taking multiple pharmaceuticals (or polypharmacy).

Medication Therapy Management

These are just a few of the things you’ll experience when you participate in a Medication Therapy Management program:

  • Learn how to get the most benefit from the drugs you take and reduce the risk of any side effects you may be experiencing from combinations of prescribed drugs
  • Address any concerns you have, like medication costs and potential drug interactions
  • Ask your physician or pharmacist about problems you may have with your prescriptions, over-the-counter medications (OTC), and supplements

Population data shows that older adults (age 65 and older) make up 14% of the nation’s population. And its projected in the coming years that those numbers will grow to 20%. However, older adults take more than 30% of all prescribed medicine in the country. Further, when you factor in adults age 55 and older, older adults represent an even larger segment of the population using pharmaceuticals.

When older adults are faced with multiple chronic conditions (high blood pressure, diabetes, depression, arthritis, etc.) the various drugs prescribed to treat those conditions often don’t work well together in the body and mind. The side effects of mixing those drugs, such as dizziness and fatigue, may be regarded as symptoms of a condition, and end up being treated with even more medications. Adding to this, you may be taking OTCs that also have the potential to cause adverse reactions. So it’s extremely important to think about the number of medications you are taking and how they all interact.

For example, since 2001 the Nevada Aging and Disability Services Division has funded the Medication Therapy Management Program at the Sanford Center for Aging of the University of Nevada, Reno, through which we provided as many as 1,400 older adults with free MTM services. Heres how the Sanford Center for Agings MTM works: A licensed clinical geriatric pharmacist conducts an individualized comprehensive medication review for eligible clients (60 years and older and taking five or more prescription drugs in our program). This review looks at all the medications the patient is taking, as well as the patients health status. After the consultation with the pharmacist, an all-inclusive medication list and comprehensive review with tailored recommendations are given to the patient and prescribing physicians, advising on how to best adjust medications to alleviate any complications. The review also provides patient education on potential future side effects that would need to be brought to the attention of their physician, if and when they occur.

It is worth noting that in many cases, MTM may be billed through Medicare. To find a program in your area, talk to your pharmacist, primary care provider, insurance provider or county/state aging services agency, like The Area Agency on Aging.

Peter S. Reed, PhD, MPH, is Director of the Sanford Center for Aging and Professor of Community Health Sciences in the Division of Health Sciences at the University of Nevada, Reno. Dr. Reed received both his Ph.D. and MPH in Health Behavior and Health Education from the School of Public Health at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.