Medisafe launches feature to alert users of potentially harmful drug interactions.
Medisafe, a personalized medication management platform with 3.5 million patient and caregiver registered users, announced a new feature to alert users of possible drug-to-drug interactions that may cause unexpected side effects and/or alter the way the medications perform. The interactions feature also includes disclosures when medications have other lifestyle implications, such as interactions with specific foods or alcohol.
With this latest enhancement, Medisafe is aiming to reduce the millions of preventable health emergencies resulting from dangerous medication combinationsi as well as to increase adherence to medications patients are not taking as prescribed, due to side effects related to a known interaction.
The majority of Medisafe users are managing multiple medications; in many cases the medications are filled at different pharmacies and downloaded directly into Medisafe using the app’s medication import feature. As a result, an individual physician may not know all of the drugs a patient has been prescribed.
Annually, medication errors lead to an estimated 44,000 to 98,000 deaths. Of this total, an estimated 7,000 deaths occur due to adverse drug reactions.ii Less understood to date is the impact on adherence. However, a recent study conducted by Medisafe found adherence to some common medications to be as much as 10% lower when taken with a contraindicated medication. The study also found that, on average, two out of 10 Medisafe users taking at least two medications are at risk of a “major” or “severe” interaction.
The Medisafe platform distinguishes between interactions based on their level of health risk using a four-point scale (“minor,” “moderate,” “major” and “severe”), taking a triaged approach to its communications accordingly.
- After Medisafe users add a medication that has a known “severe” or “major” interaction with another medication in their virtual pillbox, they receive an alert in the app’s Updates section (a.k.a the “feed”) advising them of the potential dangers and to consult their treating physician immediately.
- All interactions, from “minor” and “severe,” as well as lifestyle, appear on a drug’s “med info” screen. Users can consult this screen at any time, but they will not receive a proactive alert.
- In the coming weeks, users will be able to look up the known interactions for any medication using Medisafe’s soon-to-be-launched “Interaction Checker.”
In a recent study of 225 U.S. drug stores, over 50% of tested pharmacies dispensed dangerous drug pairs without warning patients of risks, revealing an industry-wide trend of misinformed patients.iii
With as many as one in five Americans taking three or more medications, and one in ten taking five or more, dangerous drug combinations pose a major threat to patients throughout all disease classes.iv
Common adverse lifestyle interactions include: caffeine and certain asthma medications, grapefruit juice and various high cholesterol medications, alcohol and various narcotics, and more.v
“When patients get prescriptions at different pharmacies from various specialists, it’s nearly impossible for one doctor or pharmacy to know what the other has given to them,” stated Barbara Zink-Frederick, CRNP. “What patients need to understand is how these different prescriptions interact and how to talk with their doctors about any possible adverse events. This platform is providing the necessary tools for this type of proactive and holistic medication management.”
Medisafe’s new drug interaction feature is initially available for iOS users.
i Strandell, J., Bate, A., Lindquist, M., & Edwards, I. R. (2008). Drug–drug interactions – a preventable patient safety issue? British Journal of Clinical Pharmacology, 65(1), 144–146. Retrieved from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2291271/#b3
ii Committee on Quality of Health Care in America: Institute of Medicine. To err is human: building a safer health system. Washington, D.C.: National Academy Press; 2000. Retrieved from: http://www.fda.gov/Drugs/DevelopmentApprovalProcess/DevelopmentResources/DrugInteractionsLabeling/ucm110632.htm#Types of Drug Interactions
iii The Chicago Tribune: Pharmacies miss half of dangerous drug combinations Sam Roe-Ray Long-Karisa King. Retrieved from: http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/watchdog/druginteractions/ct-drug-interactions-pharmacy-met-20161214-story.html
iv Therapeutic Drug Use. Retrieved from: https://www.cdc.gov/nchs/fastats/drug-use-therapeutic.htm
v Avoid Food-Drug Interactions. (n.d.). Retrieved from http://www.fda.gov/downloads/Drugs/…/GeneralUseofMedicine/UCM229033.pdf%20%5Baccessed%2024July%202013
(Source: PR Newswire)