Getting the Most from Medication Therapy Management


Are you getting the most out of the medications you are taking? Do you fully understand how to take them? Many drugs are available to treat life-threatening illnesses and thereby extend the length and quality of life.Yet, while drugs are essential to treat illnesses, if not taken properly they can cause serious side effects and not work the way they should. This is why pharmacists play such an important role in providing valuable information about your medication and its side effects, as well as its possible interactions with other drugs, food, nonprescription drugs, and even herbal supplements.

What Is the Medication Therapy Management (MTM) Program?

MTM is a program offered to Medicare Part D participants under the Medicare Modernization Act of 2003, which became effective in January of 2006. It was designed to help patients deal with multiple drugs and chronic diseases and to help them get the most benefit from drug therapy. In certain cases, MTM may also be provided to a caregiver or another person caring for the patient.

What Are the Benefits of MTM?

Those participants who take multiple medicines can greatly benefit from this program. MTM provides free appointments with MTM pharmacists who are specially trained to help you. In addition to counseling services by the pharmacist, MTM provides:

  • A personal review of all your medications, including answering questions about herbal supplements and nonprescription products, and making sure that you are taking only the medications you need
  • Advice on how best to use prescription and nonprescription drugs to avoid interactions and harmful side effects
  • Valuable information on potential drug cost savings
  • Help in setting up a simple schedule for medical therapy so you can get the best results

Who Is Eligible for MTM?

The MTM program is available to eligible participants in a Medicare Part D plan who:

  • Have multiple chronic diseases such as diabetes, asthma, high blood pressure, heart failure, or high cholesterol
  • Take multiple medications
  • Are likely to spend $4000 a year on medication

Once enrolled in the MTM program, you will not be dropped if one of the criteria is no longer met but will remain in the program until the end of the year.

How to Get Started

Those who wish to receive MTM in a retail pharmacy will generally do so at the pharmacy where they have their prescriptions filled. The service will be provided by a pharmacist in a private area of the pharmacy. The patient will meet with the pharmacist initially for a full medical review, then periodic visits are scheduled to monitor use of the medication and any problems that may occur. Basically, the service consists of the following:

  • The pharmacist reviews the drug therapy
  • The patient receives a list of all medications and important points
  • The pharmacist helps the patient develop a plan to get the best results
  • The pharmacist addresses any problems with the medications and may refer the patient to another health care provider
  • Documentation of services is provided to the patient and follow-up visits are scheduled

Similarly, certain insurance plans may have their own programs set up. To enroll, you would call your insurance plan's customer service department or a clinic to schedule an appointment. You would bring all the medications you are taking with you, together with any vitamins and supplements. It would be a good idea to take a list of other medications recently taken as well. The MTM pharmacist will work with you and your doctors if any recommendations are made as to any changes in therapy, but no changes will be made unless you and your doctor are in agreement.

MTM, a service under the Medicaid and Medicare programs, is of great value in achieving the best results in medication management. It is affordable and often offered at no charge. MTM offers you the opportunity to better understand drug use, the ability to recognize serious side effects, and the confidence that your medications are being taken as they should be.

Dr. Pelegrin is the pharmacy manager of a Publix Pharmacy in Miami, Fla.

Questions for Your Pharmacist

  • For what purpose I am taking this medication?
  • How can the side effects be controlled?
  • Are my medications working as they should?
  • Are there any interactions between any of my medications?
  • Do I fully understand how and when to take my medications?
  • Am I taking any nonprescription drugs that could be affecting the prescription drugs?
  • Can I save money on any of the medications?

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