Allergy-free prescriptions: A need for information gives birth to a new platform

December 10, 2015

The next time your patient asks about inactive ingredients, you can find an answer quickly at www.allergyfreerx.com.

You may remember that earlier this year, I wrote an article for Drug Topics detailing the need for more resources to aid in the identification of particular inactive ingredients in prescription medications. Since that time my team has been busy working to help improve the situation.

See also: Pharmacists must guard vulnerable patients against inactive ingredients in medications

Tens of thousands

Working as a retail pharmacist, I have had many patients who indicate intolerances to gluten, lactose, coloring agents, or any of a number of other ingredients found in medications. In the past, when new patients asked me to confirm whether their medications contain any of these ingredients, I had to contact drug manufacturers directly or sift through tiny package inserts. This process could be time-consuming and tedious. 

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Currently there are tens of thousands of medications available in the United States, and thousands of potential ingredients within them. With patients demanding more information about the ingredients in the food and medication they are ingesting, our group has identified a missing piece in the healthcare puzzle. To supply it, we provide information about medications and the often-overlooked ingredients contained within them.

The answer project

In response to this previously unmet challenge, we have begun testing an innovative software program we named Allergy Free Rx (www.allergyfreerx.com), a web-based platform capable of quickly sorting through data files for thousands of medications to provide a detailed analysis of specific drug ingredients.

We began by identifying inactive ingredients that could cause a reaction in susceptible individuals, such as gluten-based fillers or products containing large amounts of lactose. After collating a list of more than 150 items to search against, we used existing open-source drug-database information from the National Institutes of Health to cross-reference medications against specific allergy types. The Allergy Free Rx platform includes search options for medications by drug name and manufacturer, as well as by National Drug Code (NDC). The use of NDC search will aid in producing faster, more accurate results for users.

Our goal is to provide an efficient and reliable source of detailed information on the inactive ingredients that make up medications, to help ensure that their medications comply with their lifestyles and health conditions. Allergy Free Rx will also provide individuals with a social, community-based forum that will enable users to discuss their findings or needs. Our focus with Allergy Free Rx is on improving patients’ lives and health outcomes with a system that is efficient and easily navigated.

 

A universal aid

Allergy Free Rx is designed for use by healthcare workers as well as by consumers. With our platform, we seek to create the first widely used search-based application to quickly identify specific ingredients contained in medications. In providing this valuable and easily accessed information on medication ingredients to healthcare professionals, we hope to eliminate many adverse events associated with unknown inactive ingredients.

We believe that incorporation of the Allergy Free Rx platform into a pharmacy’s prescription drug utilization review processing software could be hugely beneficial to both pharmacists and the patients they serve. As consumers seek more information about the products that they take and become more involved in their own healthcare, there will be a point at which the two paradigms of healthcare connect.

Moving forward, we plan to develop our platform into a mobile application for greater accessibility. In addition, we intend Allergy Free Rx to become an evolving resource, with incorporation of more social, user-focused aspects.

Our group strongly believes that individuals should have access to the information they need to improve and empower their lives.

Joel Claycombis working with 3JC Solutions to develop Allergy Free Rx.  Feedback from pharmacists and users is greatly appreciated. E-mail him at joel.claycomb@3jcsolutions.com.