Patient Engagement May Help Prevent Drug Interactions, Related Opioid Overdoses

Editorial | 1 Minute Read

Jacques Turgeon, BPharm, PhD

January 12, 2022

Abstract

Patient engagement can support pharmacists in discovering a wider range of potential drug interactions while promoting medication safety.

Sixty-two percent of adults report currently taking prescription medicine and a quarter note they take at least 4 prescription medicines, according to a KFF Health Tracking Poll.1 When patients take multiple medications, the drugs can interact in unintended ways. These interactions may result in a range of negative consequences, from falls to inadequate drug efficacy.

Drug interactions are a common problem. In our study published in The American Journal of Managed Care, pharmacists noted 9716 drug interactions among 36,455 medication-related problems.2 In fact, “drug interaction” was the most prevalent medication-related problem for several drugs, including atorvastatin (Lipitor), metoprolol, warfarin, and simvastatin, as well as others.2

These drug interactions can be one-to-one or can include interactions between several medications simultaneously. For example, if a patient takes 3 or 4 medications that cause sedation, the total sedative burden could spur negative outcomes, such as falls, which can lead to broken bones and surgeries.

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