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Using a single pharmacy for medications can prevent injury, save money

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Milwaukee, Wis. – It may be tempting for bargain hunters to buy medications from several different pharmacies, but that could prove to be a prescription for disaster and cost more money in the long run.

“Using only one pharmacy is critical to maintain an accurate drug history so you avoid bad drug interactions,” said Polly Anderson, a pharmacist who has worked at Aurora Pharmacy in Green Bay for 10 years. “If you are going to several doctors and more than one pharmacy, it would be very easy to get two prescriptions that could be very harmful if taken together.”

One example is coumadin, or blood thinners. “It frequently interacts with other medications, so it’s vital that your health provider be aware of everything you are taking,” Anderson said.

Interaction between medications can vary from life threatening to minor. “But with the high cost of drugs, why chance compromising their effectiveness by taking two conflicting medicines?” Anderson asked.

Cost proves to be the second-biggest reason it makes sense to stick with one pharmacy, Anderson said. “Cost is a huge issue today, and your pharmacist can help you save money, especially if they know you need to pinch pennies. For instance, there may be an alternative or generic medication that is less expensive and just as effective. We’re happy to advocate for the patient and ask a physician if there are less costly options.”

Pharmacists also are a veritable encyclopedia about how and when to take medications. If you’re uncertain about directions on the label, just ask, Anderson said. “We can go over the directions with you and explain why it’s critical to take drugs at a certain time or why you need to avoid certain foods when taking them.”

For instance, according to a recent study reported in the Washington Post, grapefruit can affect an enzyme in the intestines necessary to break down medications. When the enzyme is blocked, the medication can sometimes build up to dangerous levels.

Another example includes some heart medications “that need to be taken at nighttime because the body has certain circadian rhythms that make night the best time to take them,” Anderson said.

And there are many other little known facts that pharmacists can clue you in on, such as medications like antibiotics that can cause sun sensitivity and may make you more prone to sunburn.

Using a single pharmacy also comes in handy when you’re away from home. If you are on vacation and forget your meds, Aurora pharmacies are linked together. “It’s easy to transfer a prescription,” Anderson said. “Even if you are out of state, if you call us, we can transfer the prescription to a pharmacy where you are vacationing. Your pharmacist is an essential resource to get you the right medications and to continue getting you the right medications.”

About Aurora Health Care

Aurora Health Care is a not-for-profit Wisconsin health care provider and a national leader in efforts to improve the quality of health care. Aurora offers care at sites in more than 90 communities throughout eastern Wisconsin.

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Contact: Sue Pierman

Phone: 414-647-6432

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