People who have experience taking medications will vividly remember physicians or pharmacists detailing the precautions that need to be taken with these medications. People receive instructions about which foods to avoid and to avoid drinking alcohol while taking the medications because of the dangerous side effects that can result from certain interactions.
In addition, when people take more than one medication, these medications can interact with each other in dangerous ways. These side effects can have serious impacts on a patient's health. It is the pharmacist's job to avoid these interactions. That is what makes the following information particularly concerning.
Are Pharmacies Missing Dangerous Medicine Interactions?
A recent story published in the Chicago Tribune discusses the experience of a reporter who walked into a pharmacy with prescriptions for two medications. These relatively common medications perform their jobs well when taken individually; however, when they are taken together they can cause serious muscle breakdown that can put a patient in the hospital.
To the reporter's surprise, he produced the two prescriptions and the pharmacist filled them without hesitation. In fact, the reporter received both medications without any information on the dangerous drug combination or the problems it could cause for patients. Shockingly, the story continued. He walked into a different pharmacy and the same result occurred. This process was repeated hundreds of times at multiple pharmacy chains all over the area.
A Majority of the Pharmacies Failed to Catch the Interactions
When the study had concluded, over 250 pharmacies in the area had been tested using this drug pair and multiple others. A majority of the pharmacies filled the prescriptions and some of these didn't even warn the customer of the dangerous side effects that could develop from the drug combination. This kind of study produces evidence of a systemic issue in the pharmaceutical industry. It is possible that patients have already been harmed by this incompetence.
A Predictable Response that Offers Little Relief
The report was published and, predictably, all of the major pharmaceutical chains held their hands up and vowed that something would change. It is a shame that it took a study of this magnitude to bring this ineptitude to light. The pharmacies took ownership of their actions and stated that the failure rate was unacceptable; however, this kind of systemic, unsatisfactory performance brings little solace in light of the fact that the largest pharmaceutical companies fill over 1 billion prescriptions per year.
How many of these prescriptions involved combinations of medications that could potentially harm patients? What kind of cost does this place on the patients and their loved ones? Something should be done to help these patients.
Patients Harmed should Seek Justice
An apology for failing to miss drug interactions often isn't enough for patients and their loved ones who have been harmed by this failure to meet expectations. It is imperative that pharmacies be held accountable for their actions. Anyone who has been injured by a dangerous drug combination should understand that an experienced personal injury attorney may be able to aid them in obtaining compensation related to the harm they have suffered.