May 26, 2014

More on Prescription Drug Interactions

Please, please check the medications with your pharmacist when adding a new prescription to your medications. Why? To prevent being hospitalized because of conflicts among medications. This article on Diabetes Health points out what can happen and this happened because a hospital could not or I should say would not check.

It was the pharmacist that discovered the conflict, but instead of picking up the telephone and making a call, sent a letter which was not opened until the patient was back in the hospital. It was corrected then, but should not have happened in the first place.

The FDA and the manufacturer do check with some drugs, but not every drug that a patient may be taking. Prescription drugs aren't tested in big studies using age, the speed of a person's metabolism, or other clinical variables. Interaction warnings are included with every prescription filled at drugstores. What patients do with this warning is shameful, as many people just toss it in the trash.

A recent study by the Mayo Clinic declares 70 percent of Americans use one prescription drug while half the population uses two prescription drugs. The Consumer Reports National Research Center prescription drug poll revealed an average of just over 4 prescription drugs are taken by Americans while 14 percent take 7 or more prescription drugs. Then consider that many patients see more than one doctor who may not be communicating with each other. This makes a prescription drug problem rather obvious. Now consider how many people go from one pharmacy to another pharmacy for their prescriptions, and it is a wonder there are not many more problems.

Now consider supplements – many people take them and do not tell their doctor or pharmacist that they are taking supplements. The FDA only regulates supplement products without conducting studies to investigate how it reacts with prescription medications. Mixing some supplements with prescription drugs is not only risky, but can be fatal. Yet most people consider them as natural and do not consider them as adding risk.

What can you do? Always maintain a list of current prescriptions and supplements you are taking. Make sure that each pharmacist and doctor has this list and keep it current.

There are also some foods that interactwith certain medications. Grapefruit and grapefruit juice reacts with at least 85 different prescription drugs as latest count. Since many people with diabetes are also taking statins, this is one bad combination, as are some of the cancer drugs and heart disease drugs.

There are many online resources, so consider keeping a list of websites in your wallet or purse. Or add them to your Smartphone In Case of Emergency (ICE) setting. You may want to consider one of many apps that are now available for prescription lists in the event you end up in the hospital.

The FDA constantly updates its website using reports from medical professionals about problematic side effects of not just prescriptions, but food, medical devices and even cosmetics:

The FDA also identifies potential problems for users of supplements:

The ASHP website provides information regarding drug interactions, precautions, as well as dosage advice:

The National Institutes of Health (NIH) MedlinePlus website provides information about adverse effects between prescriptions, supplements, as well as herbal ingredients. Just click on "Drugs & Supplements" and type in the product name.

Two additional online resources are provided by this national pharmacy:

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