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Are pharmacies checking for drug-drug interactions?

Nearly 70 percent of Americans today take at least one prescription drug and half of all Americans take two. The most commonly prescribed drugs include opioids, antidepressants and antibiotics. You're probably aware of some of the side effects of the drugs you take, and you are sure to inform our doctor if you experience them.

However, are you aware of the potential dangers that exist when two or more drugs interact in your body? A new investigative report by the Chicago Tribune says that pharmacies fail to inform consumers of drug-drug interactions up to 70 percent of the time. Drug interaction side effects can be mild, but the wrong combination can result in death.

So, where does prevention of this danger begin? Since 77 percent of prescriptions are now sent electronically, a pharmacist should be aware of the drugs you are taking before you even enter the store.

Pharmacy failures

With a failure rate of 72 percent, independent pharmacies were the most likely not to report an interaction. Big chain stores were twice as likely to report an interaction. Walgreen's fared the best with just a 30 percent failure rate. However, industry experts say that even a 30 percent failure rate is too high. On average, pharmacies failed to report an interaction 52 percent of the time.

If an interaction is detected by a pharmacist, counseling should be given to the customer. However, counseling can be as brief as asking "Do you have any questions?" according to the report. So, even when an interaction is detected, customers may not receive the correct information to prevent severe side effects.

How to detect an interaction

If you are taking more than two prescription drugs and have questions about interactions, you do have resources available to finding the correct information. Drugs.com provides a drug interactions checker. You can also speak with your doctor or your pharmacist if you have any questions. Ask them specifically and directly if they believe there is a dangerous interaction between the drugs you are taking.

Industry experts believe that better state-level regulation is critical to solving this potentially deadly trend. If you experience side effects due to a drug-drug interaction, seek medical attention right away, then call a medical malpractice attorney to ensure that you gain access to the proper care and compensation.

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