There’s a lot of attention being given to medication errors caused when patients are given the wrong drug, but many adverse drug reactions happen to patients who are taking the right drugs in the wrong combinations. According to research, over 4 million Americans take as many as eight different prescription drugs per day – and many older Americans take even more than that. This can lead to dangerous interactions, especially when herbal supplements, certain foods and vitamin products, alcohol, caffeine or over-the-counter drugs are added to the mix – a common occurrence during cold and flu season.

“It’s very important for anyone who is taking medications to discuss the drug, the dosage and any possible interactions with their doctor or their pharmacist – especially if a patient sees several doctors or uses more than one pharmacy,” says Marissa Schlaifer, director of Pharmacy Affairs for the Academy of Managed Care Pharmacy in Alexandria, Va.

“Virtually all pharmacies check for potential drug interactions for the prescriptions they fill, says Schlaifer. “And for patients whose health coverage is provided by a managed care organization, the plan’s centralized database helps safeguard against dangerous drug interactions, no matter where patients take their prescriptions.”

Patients need to be aware and be careful. Taking over-the-counter drugs like aspirin, acetaminophen or ibuprofen with certain common prescription products such as blood thinners or anti-inflammatory drugs can cause internal bleeding. Other drug combinations can cause dizziness, fatigue or stomach upset and in rare cases, organ failure. And sometimes, drugs can even cancel each other out.

“If you have any concern about what you are taking, be sure to call your doctor, your community or mail service pharmacist,” Schlaifer says. “Make sure all your doctors know all the drugs you are taking, even if it means bringing all your prescription containers with you on your next medical visit,” Schlaifer advises. “Or, ask your community or mail service pharmacy to provide you with a print-out of your records. And be sure to keep it up-to-date!”

The Academy of Managed Care Pharmacy’s mission is to serve society by using sound medication management principles and strategies to achieve positive patient outcomes. For more information about AMCP visit the website at

Courtesy of ARA Content

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