4 Ways Patients Can Protect Themselves from Dangerous Drug Interactions

By on February 22, 2019
Prescription Drugs

More than 2 million patients are hospitalized every year after they inadvertently mix their prescription drugs, while another 100,000 die annually. And the statistics get worse with age. The chance of an adverse drug reaction for people over 50 jumps 33 percent versus younger people.

Even over-the-counter medications and supplements can incite dangerous health risks. For example, patients with high blood pressure should avoid taking cough medicines with decongestants and should consult their pharmacist on the best options to seek relief from cold and flu symptoms. Patients taking prescriptions for depression, chest pain, ADHD, gout, arthritis and other common ailments can frequently be at more risk for dangerous reactions if they don’t keep track of their prescription regimen.

Back in the day, patients went to the same neighborhood pharmacist who knew what their customers were taking. It’s no longer like that in today’s world of e-commerce. Online prescriptions might be faster and more convenient, but they can eliminate the safety net that a familiar pharmacist provides.

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So how can patients protect themselves?

  1. Ideally, patients should go to the same pharmacist and discuss any other prescriptions they may be taking. This conversation should include over-the-counter and supplements – in addition to any medications.
  2. Be aware of how common household foods can impact medications. People who take Lipitor or Zocor with grapefruit juice may experience muscle pain and other side effects.
  3. As we age, our bodies metabolize drugs slower and at different rates. Because of this, patients should monitor any reactions to any new or existing drugs.
  4. There are many user friendly, free mobile apps that keep track of a patient’s regimen – alerting them to potential dangerous interactions. WellRx has a new “Virtual Medicine Cabinet” that warns patients of hazardous drug interactions. It also sends reminders when patients need to take their next pill, or need a refill.

In the chance that a pharmacist does identify any possible interactions among a patient’s medications, he or she may be able to suggest a schedule for taking them that will minimize the likelihood of interactions.

Similarly, if patients find that their medication regimen might lead to a potentially dangerous reaction, their pharmacist may be willing to talk to their health care team about adjusting a medication dose or finding an alternative that will work better. 

Dr. Dan Johnson, RPh and PharmD, is a passionate, visionary-minded individual with over 21 years of pharmacy experience, including specialty pharmacy, operations, managed care, compliance and vendor negotiations. He has a successful track record of identifying, evaluating and resolving complex strategic health care issues.



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  1. Pingback: 4 Ways Patients Can Protect Themselves from Dangerous Drug Interactions | How to Save Money on Prescriptions - Blog - ScriptSave WellRx

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4 Ways Patients Can Protect Themselves from Dangerous Drug Interactions