Ameritox, a provider of medication monitoring solutions, has introduced a new method to assist physicians in assessing medication non-adherence for patients with serious mental illness prescribed the antipsychotic drug Abilify.
Based on a research study of patients administered Abilify, Ameritox established an independent benchmark that can provide additional information about whether a patient may be taking medication correctly. By comparing urine drug results against the baseline study, behavioral health centers and medical professionals have more information as they assess, manage and treat patients.
"We are applying our data-driven approach toward pain-medication monitoring to the substantial problem of medication non-adherence among patients diagnosed with mental illness," said Scott Walton, Ameritox chief executive. "Our ability to reliably test for antipsychotic medications such as Abilify can improve patient care while helping to prevent the human tragedy too often associated with medication non-adherence."
Without a simple, non-invasive procedure like a urine drug test, doctors previously faced challenges in evaluating whether a patient was taking a medication. The problem of those with mental illness not taking their medication is acute: Studies show at least 50% of patients with serious mental illness go unmedicated each year because of failure to take prescribed medication.
"It is not too often that a simple tool comes along to help physicians assess potential non-adherence by their patients with these powerful medications," said Dr. Robert Millet, director of clinical research at Carolina Behavioral Care and adjunct faculty member at Duke University Medical Center in Durham, North Carolina. "This is a big advancement toward helping our patients, their families and the communities we serve."
The patient and societal consequences of untreated serious mental illness are enormous and include violence, homelessness and incarceration. In the U.S., about 13,000 suicides and half of the mass killings each year are committed by those with untreated serious mental illness, according to the Treatment Advocacy Center, a national nonprofit organization focused on treatment of serious mental illness.
"Medication monitoring is a critical component in treating serious mental illness," said Dr. Kenneth Dretchen of the department of pharmacology and physiology at Georgetown University Medical Center, who participated in the study. "Being able to help physicians assess patient non-adherence to the medication prescribed can help prevent overdoses or reduce dangerous side effects. In the end, patients can enjoy fuller lives knowing that the drug will help them recover."