A Common Consequence Of Polypharmacy

Prescription medication helps millions of Americans manage symptoms or fight disease. While medication is beneficial, there are sometimes diminishing returns due to polypharmacy practices. Polypharmacy is the regular use of at least 5 drugs. This approach is often necessary for older patients with multiple conditions or individuals with chronic health problems. Using and managing multiple medications comes with several risks, the biggest being medication adherence. Through compounding, pharmacists can improve prescription adherence and enhance health outcomes.


The dangers of polypharmacy

While 1-2 medicines can be effective, the dangers of medication interactions increase when more are added to the mix. Drug or food interactions make patients more likely to experience unpleasant side effects. These side effects can impact daily living, causing falls or repeated visits to emergency rooms. Some drugs may stop the active ingredient of others from working, reducing the level of care needed for that particular disease. Above all, patients must remember to take the correct dose at the right time. The stress of polypharmacy often leads to reduced medication adherence.

Stick to the script

Medication is only effective if the patient takes the drug as prescribed. A lack of medication adherence can lead to more severe symptoms, poor medication effectiveness, and increased mortality. With polypharmacy, the chances of forgetting to take medicine increase significantly. Patients have other obligations that make keeping track of several prescriptions difficult or may not be able to afford multiple drugs. Finding the best way to stay consistent ensures the long-term health of patients. A jumping-off point is to review all medicines. A pharmacist can assess polypharmacy and look for overprescribing. Compounding is the next step if most drugs are necessary, but adherence is the issue.

The power of compounding

Performed by a specialized pharmacist, compounding is the process of combining multiple ingredients or prescriptions into a single form. Most pharmacies dispense mass-produced drugs. However, all patients are slightly different. Some may have specific needs that standard drugs cannot fulfill. In a compounding pharmacy, the pharmacist first assesses the patient’s needs. Then, using raw ingredients or by combining multiple medicines, the pharmacist creates a new prescription. The compounded solution replaces the 5 or more drugs a polypharmacy patient takes.

Compounding improves compliance

There are several benefits to compounding, especially for improving compliance. For instance, the pharmacist can remove ingredients that cause allergic reactions or unwanted side effects. With these reactions out of the way, patients are more likely to take medication consistently. After a medication review, compounding can substitute multiple medicines for a more effective alternative. The patient can receive more relief from symptoms in fewer doses, which can be motivating. Compounding also allows the pharmacist to change the form of the drug. For instance, if the patient struggles to swallow multiple pills, the pharmacist can create a user-friendly alternative, such as a gummy or liquid form. Ultimately, the patient saves money on expensive drugs by using a specialized solution.

A combination success

The risks of taking 5 or more medications, including poor adherence, often outweigh the benefits. Finding an effective way for patients to take medicine is critical for long-term health. Compounding takes the best or most effective drugs and creates a single-use form. Now, patients are more motivated to remain consistent thanks to the many benefits of compounding.


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