Too many people are lost in the labyrinth of modern pharmacology. Young people are prescribed cocktails of psychiatric medications to address the mental health disorders of the present day. Adults over the age of 65 are filling 20 or more prescriptions on average per year. With so many lost in a sea of pills, the questions arise: Do all these drugs work well together? Are they even effective?
Looking closer at the maze of meds, we find two alarming narratives converging: people are overmedicated, and the healthcare system incentivizes overprescribing. To understand this better, we explore illuminating personal accounts of overmedication. We then journey back to uncover the precarious scaffolding upon which much of our drug prescription history is built.
As the torrent of too many pills surges, a new frontier in DNA-based medicine emerges to solve the overmedication problem — pharmacogenomics. One research institution, Coriell Life Sciences, seems to be in the right place at the right time to guide us through this difficult situation. With decades of experience pioneering genomic research, Coriell is poised to redefine the contours of personalized medicine. Their mission is to revolutionize patient wellness by harmonizing medications with a patient’s genetic blueprint. Join us as we navigate the challenges of modern pharmacology and reveal startling truths about and new solutions for the overmedication epidemic.
Overmedicated young people
In the dimly lit corner of her Brooklyn apartment, Renae Smith, now 20, recounted to New York Times journalists the years that feel both distant yet hauntingly close. At 14, she was much like any teenager navigating adolescence. Beneath her spirited exterior was a storm of anxiety and depression. Her inner anguish led her to seek help with the support of her parents.
Renae's psychiatrist first prescribed Prozac. Initially, she found relief, but the effects waned. She was prescribed an additional antidepressant, Effexor—more relief.
High school continued, and the prescriptions kept rolling in. By her senior year, Renae was on seven different drugs and had tried ten other medications. She had pills for seizures and migraines – but experienced neither; the drug was used to stabilize her mood. She had pills for schizophrenia— but did not experience the condition; the meds helped numb the side effects of the other prescriptions.
In an interview, she reflected on her senior yearbook photo, "I felt terrible that day," said Renae, looking at her smiling photo. "I've gotten good at wearing a mask."
This trend isn't recent. The late 20th century marked an inundation of new psychiatric drugs, each promising solace from anxiety, depression, ADHD, OCD, PTSD, and other conditions. Despite this proliferation, studies remain inconclusive about drug efficacy, especially in adolescents. As Dr. Robert Hilt from the University of Washington quips, many of these medications offer only a "modest upside."
Yet, Dr. Stephanie Kennebeck from Cincinnati Children's Hospital strikes a more balanced tone, emphasizing the potential life-saving benefits of appropriate medication but advocating for the combination of therapy as the lynchpin in adolescent mental health.
Renae's story took a turn for the worse. In October of 2021, she was diagnosed with thyroid cancer. After the diagnosis, she had a string of good luck: a new psychiatrist, a revised medication regimen pared down to essentials, and a successful surgery. By the following summer, Renae felt rejuvenated, attributing her renewed spirits to a combination of effective medication, profound self-reflection, and a stark wake-up call from the cancer diagnosis.
Multiple medications create uncertainty
The medical community remains deeply divided on adolescent mental health medication. Some hail the advances in psychiatric medication as a beacon of hope for troubled youth. Others, like Dr. Rodriguez, sounded alarms about the lack of evidential backing, mainly when multiple drugs are prescribed concurrently.
"We're essentially piloting uncharted waters," says a leading pediatric psychiatrist, Dr. Elena Rodriguez. "The consequences of a single drug can be studied, but introduce multiple medications, and we're in a realm of unpredictability." The resounding consensus, however, is clear: the need for comprehensive research has never been more critical.
The dangers of polypharmacy for elderly adults
The unknown effects of multiple medications aren't confined to young people like Renae Smith and her peers. On the other end of the age spectrum, elderly adults are also lost. A troubling incident at the University of California Irvine (UCI) Hospital shocked nurses and illuminated what many silently endure.
A man in his 70s stepped through the automatic sliding doors at the UCI Senior Health Center. He was accompanied by his daughter to undergo a standard medication review. When asked what medications he was taking, he turned to his daughter. She reached into her purse and pulled out a five-page spreadsheet of prescriptions. The pharmacist's jaw dropped.
Tatyana Gurvich, a clinical pharmacist specializing in geriatrics, was shocked. "I was impressed because she was so organized, but as I looked through the number of medications and duplications, I was also horrified. I asked her how it had gotten to this point."
The woman explained that her dad was taking medications for several chronic illnesses. The pharmacist confiscated all of his current medications, and he was given a list of new prescriptions.
"He ended up with three times as many meds as he needed because nobody actually went through everything and told him to throw all the old stuff away," Gurvich says. "Adverse events in hospitals are all too real, especially when there is a transition of care like going from hospital to home or hospital to a nursing facility."
Overprescribing is known as polypharmacy and refers to patients consuming five or more medications to address multiple chronic ailments. This practice poses serious health risks to the older adult population. There is a high likelihood of adverse reactions and potential fatalities. The chances of harm amplify with the addition of each new drug. Research has repeatedly highlighted connections between polypharmacy and falls, bone breaks, kidney issues, weakened physical state, cognitive decline, and increased hospital stays.
There's a domino effect: each drug impacts another, leading to an ever-expanding web of side effects. It is incredibly daunting for those grappling with the fog of cognitive challenges. As pill bottles pile higher, so does the financial burden. Even with the buffer of insurance like Medicare, the costs can suffocate.
While it's easy to point fingers at doctors, it's crucial to recognize the system they operate in. Pull back the curtain and find a system filled with incentives that motivate doctors and patients to push for multiple meds. It's not just about health but pharmaceutical pressures, insurance quirks, and patient demands.
Why are we overprescribed?
The U.S. healthcare system encourages doctors to overprescribe at times. Several factors contribute to this predicament: the shared desire of both patients and physicians for quick remedies, messy communication across medical care, and convoluted medical records.
The influence of the pharmaceutical industry cannot be understated in this equation. Their sway is felt through colossal advertising budgets. In 2016, drug companies spent $6 billion on direct-to-consumer advertisements.
Remember that one commercial? The setting is sunny, and rolling green hills mark the background. The camera zooms in on a senior's smiling face. She can finally ride her bike again like she did when she was a kid; what a relief. The focus is emotional and drawn out, while the information about side effects is regulated to fast-spoken blurbs or tiny print details. Patients often watch television and request specific medications, leading doctors to prescribe them, even when not strictly necessary.
The industry's reach extends far beyond advertisements. Pharmaceutical companies often engage doctors with sales rep visits, offer free samples, host informational seminars, and sponsor medical education courses. In doing so, they amplify the benefits of medications while downplaying potential risks. Additionally, pharmaceutical companies are adept at funding post-market studies, pushing their products for "off-label" uses, thereby expanding their consumer base.
The U.S. is only one of two countries (New Zealand) in the world that permits direct-to-consumer advertising for prescription medications. The numbers don't lie; U.S. citizens comprise about 5% of the global population yet consume an estimated 25% of the world's pharmaceutical drugs.
Looking at this with a lens of innocence and excluding all possibilities of malice or manipulation, we still find a system that highly incentivizes prescription drug use. It is no wonder that polypharmacy is a big issue. The answer to the consumption problem is not to cut people off, punish doctors, or litigate against pharmaceutical companies— these are reactive solutions that have proven not to work. The solution needs to be proactive. A company called Coriell Life Sciences is leading a new proactive movement in medicine. Their Corigen product is a strong solution.
Coriell's has the answer to the problem of polypharmacy
Coriell Life Sciences blends genetic testing with demographic data, lifestyle attributes, and cutting-edge modeling to redefine proactive healthcare. Coriell's flagship product, Corigen, harnesses pharmacogenomics to help patients find medications that work.
By using a simple DNA sample, Coriell is able to help people escape the labyrinth of drug
unknowns or what many are calling the quadrants of efficacy. Imagine a square with four outcomes in each corner. These are the effects of taking a drug. A prescription can be both effective and toxic, demanding rigorous monitoring. A drug might be non-toxic yet ineffective, leading to pointless medicating. A drug can be toxic and ineffective, resulting in bodily harm. All of this is done by searching for effective and non-toxic meds to solve the problem. To find out if a single medication works can take up to 6 weeks. Coriell's DNA-testing kit eliminates the need for multiple months of painful trial and error with prescriptions.
This solution is particularly important to vulnerable populations like mentally ill young people and elderly adults in pain from chronic ailments.
Coriell's Corigen is not just an advancement in personalized medicine; it represents a paradigm shift. The immediate and obvious benefit lies in its potential to save lives. By offering precise, DNA-tailored prescriptions, Corigen reduces drug interaction risks, harmful side effects, and incorrect dosages – common culprits behind life-threatening situations.
Moreover, by preventing negative medication interactions, Corigen prevents unneeded physical pain and suffering due to unsuitable drug combinations. No longer will patients have to endure a painful trial-and-error period of finding the 'right' medication. Their genetic blueprint can guide them straight to the most effective treatment.
Financially, Coriell's approach offers a cascade of savings. Patients equipped with precise medication guidance can sidestep the costs of ineffective drugs. The more accurate and targeted the treatment, the quicker the recovery. This means fewer doctor visits, specialist consultations, and hospital stays.
Insurance companies that encourage the adoption of the Corigen product also experience rewards. A population that is healthier, thanks to DNA-tailored treatments, would logically claim fewer insurance benefits, leading to decreased payouts. This could translate to lower insurance premiums for policyholders, fostering a win-win scenario for both insurers and the insured.
Ultimately, Coriell's innovation with Corigen has the potential to redefine the very ethos of healthcare. By ensuring more effective treatment pathways, it promises not only improved health outcomes but also a more economically sustainable healthcare model. In an era where both health and economic concerns dominate the health conversation, Coriell has the solution that addresses both – and then some. Coriell was always a healthcare product innovator; it began as a research institution.
The Catalyst Behind Coriell's Evolution
The metamorphosis of Coriell from a research institute into a direct-to-consumer powerhouse was not accidental. While the team at Coriell had the vision and the expertise, they needed the right financial backing to transform their vision into a tangible solution. That support came from Star Strong Capital. Recognizing the groundbreaking potential of Coriell's venture, Star Strong stepped in, not just as an investor but as a genuine believer in the change Coriell promised. Their strategic investment propelled Coriell's transition, ensuring that the benefits of Corrigen wouldn't just remain in research papers but would reach households worldwide. It's a testament to Star Strong Capital's forward-thinking approach, where they don't just see financial figures but the potential for genuine, world-altering change. With their backing, Coriell stands poised to redefine the landscape of personalized medicine, ushering in an era of safer, more effective, and financially efficient healthcare solutions.
The way forward is through DNA
Navigating the perplexing labyrinth of modern pharmacology, we found stories of overmedication, a system fostering excessive prescriptions, and hope emerging from a new frontier in medicine. Coriell Life Sciences, backed by Star Strong Capital, emerges as a leader with the promise of DNA-tailored medicine. They're not just setting a new course for healthcare but also challenging us to expect more: personal, precise, and purposeful medicine. In a world drowning in generic solutions, it's time for a treatment revolution—and it starts with Coriell.
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