Americans spent nearly $328.6 billion on prescription medication in 2016, according to the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services. With that kind of expense, you might assume that all these prescription medications are reducing overall healthcare costs. Yet, that’s not what’s happening.
According to a recent report from the Skaggs School of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences at University of California San Diego, researchers found that “illness and death resulting from non-optimized medication therapy costs $528.4 billion annually, equivalent to 16 percent of total U.S. health care expenditures in 2016.”
Study author Jonathan Watanabe, PharmD, PhD, associate professor of clinical pharmacy in the Skaggs School of Pharmacy said:
Patients end up spending more money correcting the problems created by taking the wrong medications than the costs of the medication itself.
Medications for Mental Health
Let’s look at the mental health arena, where the problem is even more pronounced. Only about half of Americans diagnosed with major depression receive treatment for it. Of those receiving treatment, and only about one-fifth receive appropriate treatment, according to the National Institute for Mental Health, which shared data from nationally representative surveys.
The problem lies in part with TAU, or “treatment as usual.” After a healthcare provider has diagnosed a patient with depression, the usual course of action is to prescribe an antidepressant or other medication based on that doctor’s previous experience with the medication.
This medication may or may not work for the patient, thus beginning the trial and error process. Healthcare providers often then prescribe different medications or combinations of medications to eventually – and hopefully – find something that works.
Yet almost half of people don’t respond to the first prescribed antidepressant, according to Jonathan E. Alpert, M.D., Ph.D., the associate director of the Massachusetts General Hospital Depression Clinical and Research Program and co-founder and co-director of the Depression and Anxiety Group Practice.
In fact, many end up trying five to six medications without a significant reduction in symptoms. For some patients, nothing seems to work. This can result in frustration, unused medicine, and wasted money.
Genetic Testing for Depression Medication
Genes influence a person’s response to medications. This, in part, explains why one drug can be so effective for one patient but not work for others. One way to get to the right medication faster is through the use of pharmacogenomics (PGx), the study of how your genes affect your body’s response to medications. A PGx test takes a sample of your DNA to analyze, and then matches you to FDA-approved medications based on your drug-gene interactions.
Pharmacogenomic testing like Assurex Health’s GeneSight® Psychotropic test can help healthcare providers select the right medication and the right dosing strategy. By analyzing your DNA, the GeneSight test helps your doctor get a better understanding of what medication might work best based on your unique genetic makeup.
This leads to cost savings. In fact, studies have shown that patients who have taken the GeneSight test save on average $1,036 per year in prescription costs, fewer doctor appointments, and fewer emergency room visits.
Cost savings are just one aspect of how pharmacogenomics can help get patients on the road to recovery. Taking the right medication the first time can save time, eliminate aggravation and, most importantly, improve your peace of mind.
Interested in learning how the GeneSight test can help you? Please visit us here: https://genesight.com/take-the-next-step/