Kudos to ABC’s “Good Morning America” for broadcasting a segment this week suggesting that patients talk to their local pharmacists – an untapped resource – before mixing medicines.
The segment on Monday’s show, entitled “How to Avoid Drug Mistakes,” featured Dr. Mehmet Oz, host of The Dr. Oz Show, being interviewed by anchor Robin Roberts.
Dr. Oz said, “What many people don’t realize is the least used, least expensive healthcare resource of all is a pharmacist.”
Oz discussed his recent undercover work at a pharmacy. He also named the top three mistakes people make, that could be resolved in part by talking to a pharmacist:
1) Falsely believing that over-the-counter (OTC) drugs are 100 percent safe without understanding the possible drug interactions present;
2) Mistakenly believing that generic and brand drugs are not the same; and
3) Failing to take their medications correctly.
His findings echo previous NCPA studies that show nearly three-quarter of adults do not always take their prescription medicine as directed. Many forget to take a medication, take less than the prescribed dosage, or stop taking it before the supply runs out. In more than half the cases, the patients made these decisions without talking to a health care professional.
Experts estimate that this patient non-adherence costs the United States nearly $290 billion per year in extra medical costs, including hospital visits, doctor visits, lab tests, and nursing home admissions. As Dr. Oz noted, new services can help remind patients to take their medicines. For example, NCPA offers the My Dose Alert program.
Oz is also right to suggest the use of a single pharmacy to help patients avoid mistakes, so that the pharmacist has a complete history of all medications and supplements taken. NCPA has long advocated for the critical role pharmacists play in improving medication adherence. By going to a single pharmacy, pharmacists can effectively monitor patients for nonadherence, drug interactions and prevent medication errors and serve as a key touch point for patients to effectively monitor their medication use as they move through the healthcare system.
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