Polypharmacy and Poly Pharmacies

Polypharmacy and Poly Pharmacies

Drug ID was created to help increase patient safety through quick medication identification.  The app puts a safety check into the hands of the consumer for pharmacy mixups, patient mixups, or the “I just found this pill” scenario.  A high priority in pharmacy is patient safety as it relates to drug interactions.

The potential for medication interactions are always checked when you get a new prescription. Screening for interactions is also done on your refills. Interactions may be between two or more medications prescribed for the same disease or between a medication and a disease.  Multiple medications prescribed for the same disease is known as polypharmacy. This is why it’s important to let your pharmacy know when a new medication has been added or when you are given a new diagnosis such as: high blood pressure, kidney failure, etc.

One thing that makes checking your interactions almost impossible is “poly pharmacy.”  What does this mean?  This is a term frequently used by pharmacists, when multiple pharmacies, not in the same chain, are used to fill the same or new prescriptions. The downfall to this is that you could get a medication at one pharmacy that may interact with with a medication you purchased at a different pharmacy. This happens because the new pharmacy can only see part of your medication profile. They do not have access to your medication history with the previous pharmacy.

We see “poly pharmacy” common with coupons offered when a medication is transferred from one pharmacy to another. That coupon may be a great thing.  Just make sure you’re still “protected” against drug interactions. The best way to do this, is to always carry your medication list with you.  This way, if you’re  not at your “home pharmacy” and need a medication; the pharmacist can always review your list for possible interactions.

Remember, it’s a team effort to manage your health. As pharmacists, we are privileged to be in the community as part of your health team. When we counsel you on medications being picked up, please take this as “your time” to get all your questions answered.  If you are a “poly-pharmacy culprit”, consider picking only one pharmacy to use.  It’s all about safety.  We don’t want to see any medication harm just because “we don’t know what we can’t see” .

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