Pharmacies miss half of dangerous drug combinations

Sam Roe, Ray Long and Karisa King, Pharmacies miss half of dangerous drug combinations. Part 3 of “Dangerous Doses.” Chicago Tribune, 15 December 2016. “The [Chicago] Tribune reporter walked into an Evanston [Illinois] CVS pharmacy carrying two prescriptions: one for a common antibiotic, the other for a popular anti-cholesterol drug. Taken alone, these two drugs, clarithromycin and simvastatin, are relatively safe. But taken together they can cause a severe breakdown in muscle tissue and lead to kidney failure and death. When the reporter tried to fill the prescriptions, the pharmacist should have warned him of the dangers. But that’s not what happened. The two medications were packaged, labeled and sold within minutes, without a word of caution. In the largest and most comprehensive study of its kind, the Tribune tested 255 pharmacies to see how often stores would dispense dangerous drug pairs without warning patients. Fifty-two percent of the pharmacies sold the medications without mentioning the potential interaction, striking evidence of an industrywide failure that places millions of consumers at risk.”

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