4 tips to simplify your meds and take them regularly

Remembering to take your medications as prescribed can be challenging. And it only gets tougher with the more medications you’re prescribed. Now add in multiple chronic health conditions. Then add a hectic or unpredictable schedule.  Soon you’ve got a recipe for failure. There’s good news though: clinical pharmacists are specially trained to identify opportunities to switch medications, simplify drug regimens, and help patients develop a strategy to successfully take all of their medications.

4 tips to simplify your meds:

  1. Ask your pharmacist if any of the meds you are taking more than once daily come in a long-acting, or extended-release formulation?
    • If so, your doctor could change your prescription to the long acting, once daily medication.
    • A possible benefit of switching to the longer acting medication is better control of your symptoms, since there’s less chance of you experiencing a “wearing-off effect”.
    • Sometimes long acting medications cost more than the shorter acting ones. This depends on your insurance, consult your list of drugs covered (formulary) to check.
    • FYI: If after the switch is made, you decide the cost difference isn’t worth it, there’s no obligation to pick up and pay for the medication at the pharmacy. Just ask the pharmacy to switch it back and notify your doctor.
  2. Ask your pharmacist if the medications you currently take come as combination pills?
    • Many blood pressure medications and diabetes medications come as combination pills.
    • For example, metformin for diabetes comes in a combination with pioglitazone, rosiglitazone, repaglinide, sitagliptin, saxagliptin, canagliflozin, dapagliflozin, and empagliflozin! Some also come as long acting, once daily combos – Double score!
    • This can help decrease your “pill burden”, cut down on the number of times you’re going to the pharmacy to pick up refills, and help you to take your medications as prescribed – all with the end goal of making sure your medications are effectively treating and managing your health conditions.
  3. Consider changing the time of day you take your medication.
    • For many once daily medications the time of day you choose to take the medication does not impact or change the efficacy of the medication. This means that if you are more likely to remember to take your medications with dinner, rather than breakfast, this is fine! Talk with your doctor or pharmacist  to double check that changing the timing of the dose will be ok.
  4. Ask your doctor if any of the medications you currently take could be safely stopped?
    • You might be surprised by the answer.  Often times there are medications that you could safely stop taking.
    • Ask, “Is the use of all of these medications supported by outcomes data?” Outcomes data refers to whether or not a drug has been proven to prevent negative outcomes like death, heart attack, stroke – it’s more significant than just, “Does the medication work?”

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    If you found this helpful, you may want to check out the following:

    What Are The Keys to Consistently Taking Your Medication? 
    Is the High Cost of Your Prescription Medications Getting You Down?
    The Top 3 Medication Problems in the Elderly

Kristen Engelen, PharmD
Kristen Engelen, PharmD, is the chief pharmacy officer of RxLive and a certified consultant pharmacist; she has over a decade of experience in retail pharmacy settings. Kristen became an RxLive co-founder because of her passion for geriatric pharmacy, with a focus on the intersection of pharmacy and aging.