Purchasing Medications

 

Doctors often call new prescriptions into your pharmacy so you do not have to pick up a handwritten prescription. Unfortunately, prescriptions that are communicated orally can be misheard, as in the following example.

When a middle-aged man arrived at a pharmacy to pick up a refill for lactulose (a common laxative), he was told that he needed a new prescription from his doctor. There were no refills left on his previous prescription. The pharmacist suggested that the man could use KARO corn syrup as a substitute for lactulose until he visited his doctor for his next check-up.

In a poll, one out of every three people said that paying for prescriptions is a problem for their families. Of those, three out of four said they had put off filling their prescriptions or cut back the doses prescribed by their doctors because of the cost. One in ten people also admitted to buying prescription medicines illegally from a foreign country like Canada or Mexico to get a better price.

Avandia (rosiglitazone) and Prandin (repaglinide) are medicines with names that look remarkably similar when handwritten. In the figure below, a pharmacist thought the doctor had prescribed Avandia, but the prescription was really for Prandin.

Most health plans offer mail-order prescriptions. Follow these steps to ensure that your prescriptions are filled correctly and delivered safely.

A woman went to pick up her son's prescription for Metadate ER (methylphenidate, extended release), which is used to treat attention deficit hyperactivity disorder. The pharmacist had a hard time reading the prescription. He thought the doctor had prescribed methadone. This medicine is used for drug withdrawal, and also to lessen cancer pain.

A doctor prescribed doxepin (Sinequan) 50 mg daily for a young man with depression. This medicine is available in a 50 mg capsule. But the pharmacy where the man had the prescription filled carried only 10 mg and 100 mg capsules. The lower dose (10 mg) is normally used to treat patients with chronic itching. A higher dose (50 mg or more) is the usual dose to treat depression.

Coming up with a name for a new medication isn’t as easy as one might think. Not only are drug makers looking for names that scream ‘take me’ and fix what ails you to consumers, the name also needs to stick in your doctor’s mind.

Diabeta (glyburide) is an oral medication commonly used in the treatment of diabetes. However, a potentially dangerous situation exists for patients who purchased drugs via the Internet: Diabeta is also the name of a “natural medicine” available from Morpheme Remedies, based in India, but available online and promoted for purchase in the United States.

Consumers must use caution when purchasing prescription drugs over the telephone or the Internet.  In addition to the increased risk of purchasing unsafe and ineffective drugs from the thousands of Web sites operating outside the law, there is the danger that personal data can be compromised

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