Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Doc, Have You Heard of This New Drug?

Often patients ask me about a new drug they heard or read about, and would like a prescription to "try it out". Sometimes, the new drug works wonders, but most of the time, there is no such luck. Obviously pharmaceutical companies are spending more money on direct advertising to the public, and it's working! Our country spends staggering amounts of money on drugs.
Today I'd like to share a pneumonic from the AAFP that helps doctors assess new medications: STEPS.

S: Safety- what are the drug interactions and side effects?
T: Tolerability- how many people stop taking the drug because of side effects?
E: Effectiveness-this may seem obvious, but really: does this drug not only change a LAB VALUE (or blood pressure, etc.) but DOES IT IMPROVE PATIENT QUALITY OF LIFE or HELP PATIENTS LIVE LONGER?
P: Price: Is it worth the cost?
S: Simplicity: How many times per day is it required? With or without food? Can it be taken with other medications?

BOTTOM LINE: Together with your doctor, discuss these issues before you add another medication to your daily routine. </span>

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