Drug-interaction risk is real; don’t ignore it

Unfortunately, when we are contemplating taking a new prescription medication, too many of us don’t think about possible harmful interactions with the other drugs we’re taking. We treat the risk like all the fast-paced warnings at the end of pharmaceutical commercials — we ignore them.

That’s dangerous — and in a world where many of us don’t have long-term relationships with a single doctor or pharmacy, it’s becoming all too common for us to fall into drug regimens where the individual medications either counter each other’s effects or create unexpected, and sometimes even deadly, side effects.

That’s why Health 2.0 sites like DoubleCheckMD and PharmaSurveyor are so valuable; they allow you to enter medications and research possible interactions yourself.

If you don’t want to take the do-it-yourself route, however, the Houston Chronicle recommends the following precautions:

Heidi Bragg, a pharmacist and University of Houston School of Pharmacy professor …recommends two actions to help take control of your own health: keep a list of every prescription, supplement and over-the-counter medicine you take, and use one pharmacy to fill all your prescriptions.

The pharmacy professor said drug interactions are especially significant for elderly patients who often take more medicines.

Bragg said she met with one woman who took four synthetic thyroid medications at one time all prescribed by different doctors, all different dosages and all filled at different pharmacies.

“She could have died,” Bragg said.

Pharmaceutical companies talk fast in commercials when they warn about drug interactions. But for your health’s sake, it’s in your interest to take your time and make sure your regimen is both safe and effective.

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