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Medication Problems Affect Two-Thirds of Medicare Patients

August 28, 2019

Although a mere 13% of Medicare beneficiaries qualified for medication therapy management through their Part D plan in 2015, many more would benefit from the service, according to a study published online in the journal Research in Social and Administrative Pharmacy. 

Researchers from the University of the Pacific Thomas J. Long School of Pharmacy looked at the type and frequency of medication-related problems identified by student pharmacists who met with 910 community-dwelling Medicare beneficiaries in California in 2017.  

Nearly 70% of the beneficiaries had at least one medication-related problem discovered through medication therapy management services provided by the student pharmacists. Severe drug-drug interactions made up more than a third of such problems, according to the study, while untreated conditions constituted 14.7% of the medication-related problems. 

Patient factors associated with medication-related problems included taking multiple prescription and over-the-counter medications, receiving a subsidy, and coverage in a Medicare Advantage Prescription Drug Plan, researchers reported. 

In all, 13% of Medicare beneficiaries had a medication-related problem severe enough to require follow up with their prescriber. 

“Understanding the type, frequency, and factors contributing to medication-related problems is imperative to identify and avoid negative sequelae,” researchers wrote. “Reduction of medication-related problems can potentially improve patient clinical outcomes, increase quality-of-life, and decrease overall cost of care.” 

Jolynn Tumolo


Rogan EL, Ranson CA, Valle-Oseguera CS, et al. Factors associated with medication related problems in an ambulatory Medicare population and the case for medication therapy management [published online August 18, 2019]. Res Social Adm Pharm. doi: 10.1016/j.sapharm.2019.08.033

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