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Interview

Becoming More Aware of Medications Linked With Cognitive Impairment and How to Help Address This Among Patients


December 09, 2020

By Julie Gould 

Chelsa Deanes, fellow at Belmont University in their drug information fellowship program in partnership with Aegis Scientific, and Jacquese Reed, P3 at Belmont UniversityChelsa Deanes, fellow at Belmont University in their drug information fellowship program in partnership with Aegis Scientific, and Jacquese Reed, P3 at Belmont University, explain why they aimed to better understand the link between medication and cognitive impairment—specifically in driving impairment—in a recent study, and how pharmacists can help bring awareness to their patients of the potential side effects that they can experience while using certain medications.

Tell us a little about yourselves.

Chelsa Deanes:  My name is Chelsa Deanes. I am a fellow at Belmont University in their drug information fellowship program in partnership with Aegis Scientific, which is a toxicology lab here in Nashville.

That was one of the reasons why I decided to do this research. We are always looking to see what's going on with the drugs that are out relatable to our research and what information is available and how we can make things better for all pharmacists.

Jacquese Reed:  My name is Jacquese Reed. I'm a P3 at Belmont University. My focus track is informatics. I have an interest in drug information, which brought me to hop on this project presentation.

What past research or what was known that led you down this route to conduct this research?

Chelsa:  That was the issue that we were trying to actually solve: “is there very much information available for drugs that can cause driving impairment?” We knew that there was an article that had been published in 2010, a very extensive 772‑page article that had been published in 2010 with all this information about drugs that can cause driving impairment, fatigue, sleep disorders, and things like that.

We wanted to see if any of that information was available for drugs that had been FDA‑approved since then. According to our research, we weren't able to find much information, just doing a brief search. That caused us to really just look into it further and acknowledge the need for more research to be done.

Of your findings, were any of them particularly surprising?

Chelsa:  I was actually surprised that of the, I think it was 62 or 63 drugs that had been approved since 2010 that had been associated with driving impairment, we were only able to find articles for about 10 of those drugs.

Then, just with the effort of reproducing the original 2010 publication using those specific inclusion and exclusion criteria, only one of those articles that we found for the 10 drugs met those criteria. That was pretty shocking to me.

Going into a clinical practice side of things, how can pharmacists take these findings of seeing only a couple of drugs having this information, how can they take these findings and put it into practice to better inform their patients?

Chelsa:  Well, we just bring awareness to their patients of the potential side effects that they can experience while using these medications, and also, just being aware that those side effects are possible, to act accordingly. Potentially, maybe it'll help decrease fatal accidents, car crashes, hurting other people, or themselves.

Can you give an overall summary or conclusion, and what is it you're looking forward to in the future based on these findings? Do you have any wrap‑up thoughts?

Chelsa:  I would just like to see more research being done on the area, especially with it being a risk. We do know that a lot of people drive under the influence but they're unaware that they're under the influence. More research being done does acknowledge the fact that those side effects are a possibility and to what extent we should be concerned for those to occur.

Is it much of an issue? Is it early on after administration? Is it a few hours post‑administration? Do those side effects wear off over time? Just more information overall so that we can not only educate other pharmacists and other practicing physicians but the public as a whole, those that will be taking those medications.

Jacquese:  I would just like to see more awareness on this matter because those side effects can be fatal. It's been a little over 10 years since some studies have been done on this matter. I just think that it's important to, like I said, raise awareness and prevent those complications that can come with these side effects from these medications.

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