When Medications Add Up

For many people, medication plays a critical role in overall health and wellness. Almost half of all Americans have taken at least 1 prescription in the past month. Some adults end up taking multiple medications and supplements. While often necessary, the use of multiple drugs can lead to a situation called polypharmacy. When multiple medications are required, a pharmacist can help with prescription management. Sometimes, the pharmacist can even prevent patients from taking multiple medications.

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The dangers of polypharmacy

When a patient takes at least 5 prescriptions daily, this is called polypharmacy. The term often describes older adults managing multiple chronic conditions or younger adults with debilitating diseases. Polypharmacy sometimes develops naturally. The patient visits different specialists to address different issues. The specialists may each prescribe multiple medications, resulting in overlap. While the drugs may help symptoms, there is a high risk of drug interactions, adverse effects, and other complications. Studies show an 88% chance of adverse reactions in elderly polypharmacy patients. Taking multiple medications can also confuse patients, raises stress levels, cost thousands of dollars, and possibly reduce lifespan.

Your pharmacist can help

When patients take multiple medications, a pharmacist can intervene and help with prescription management, a catch-all term for managing medicine effectively. Pharmacists do more than dispense medicine. These experts can also help with prescription management, helping patients stay healthier for longer. The pharmacist can start prescription management with a medication review. If necessary, the pharmacist can also perform compounding to consolidate medicine.

Time for a medication review

As part of prescription management, the pharmacist will request a medication review. The patient will visit the health professional with all prescriptions, supplements, and other drugs. The pharmacist will review the medication and provide individualized recommendations to maximize the patient’s health. For instance, the pharmacist can recognize overlaps in medicine, identify harmful interactions, and recommend safer alternatives. Patients who take too many medications can also struggle with dosage instructions and adherence. Pharmacists can provide coaching and counseling to help the patient improve. At the end of a medication review, the patient should understand the reason behind each drug.

Compounding as prescription management

What if there was a way to consolidate all prescriptions into 1 or 2 pills? Some pharmacists can do so with compounding. This process uses the pharmacist’s expertise to create a formulation that eliminates the need to take multiple medications daily. Compounding is the process of creating customized medication for the patient’s needs. The compounding pharmacist takes ingredients or combines multiple prescriptions to create a single, effective drug. Compounding can even change the form and flavor. This approach can improve patient adherence, reduce symptoms, and help avoid accidental overdose. More importantly, multiple medications become much more manageable.

Taking control of health

The use of multiple medications may help with symptoms, but the risk of complications and adverse reactions is high. A pharmacist can assess all drugs used and exclude any overlap. From there, swapping to more effective drugs or using compounding ensures that the patient can now follow a more manageable treatment plan. Prescription management doesn’t have to be difficult.


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