Sunday, July 1, 2007

Prescription drugs present own problems

Saving money, including those with private or government insurance, is an appealing option. Thus the new emphasis on $4 generic drugs.

There are multiple large chain stores and an increasing number of independent drug stores who offer similar programs.
However, there are multiple issues to consider carefully with your doctor and/or pharmacist before using the $4 program.

If you shop for drugs at more than one pharmacy, it is possible that the dispensing pharmacy is unaware of other medications you are taking. This could result in "double dosing" or taking drugs that are not compatible.

Using one pharmacy for all of your prescriptions allows the pharmacy staff to review your medical conditions and the medications that you are currently taking prior to filling a prescription. If your medical condition requires several different medications, the possibility for the patient or caregiver to make an error can be increased.

Reading the label on the generically dispensed pharmacy labels becomes confusing. For example: the commonly ordered drug Novasc would be labeled Amlodipine Besylate and Soma would be labeled Simvistatin.

Further, different manufacturers may color their generic products differently.

Patients often take their medications by memory — for instances taking the "small pink pill" in the morning, a "triangular pill" midday etc. Some patients either can't or won't check the bottle before taking a pill, but they depend on the familiarity of shapes and colors.

The $4 drugs are very useful and safe if the patient knows what they are taking. When in doubt, call your pharmacy.

by MARY CATHERINEDELLASALLa

East Stroudsburg

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