A growing practice of many pharmacies today is the auto-refill and mail order program. In theory this is a great fix for the individual who always forgets to refill their prescription or one who is overwhelmed with the management of numerous medications. But, there is a definite negative side to this practice – waste or even worse, medication errors.
After viewing the video “I-Team:Millions of Pounds of Prescription Drugs Wasted Each Year” it was mind blowing to me the amount of money spent on medications that are never taken when there are countless number of people who do not get prescriptions filled because of their inability to pay for them. This truly points to a glitch in a system that requires immediate attention to repair.
Unfortunately we live in a time where the mindset is “there is an app for that” and automation is the way to go. As a wellness advocate, my belief is the burden lies on the individual or the caregiver to ensure that the management of medication is accurate and safe. Nothing can replace the direct interaction between providers and consumers of health. There will always be the need for direct check and balance between what the medication and dosage was initially and what it is as time goes on. Deadly mistakes can and do occur when dosages are changed and a new prescriptions are filled without discarding the original dosage.
To me there is no doubt that medication management should be a high priority for anyone with a chronic medical condition. There are a limited number of programs (insurance or community based) that provide medication management assistance. Perhaps the best ally in this equation is the pharmacist. Those one on one conversations regarding the why, how, when and what (why am I taking it, how should I take it in, when should I take it and what are any adverse things I need to be aware of) about one’s medications can lead to better adherence and overall safety. By removing the “robo factor”, not only can consumers become better educated from that interpersonal interaction but errors can be greatly reduced. Thankfully, new Medicare guidelines now require those with Medicare D coverage approve the 3-month mailing prior to being mailed but more needs to be done to correct this problem.
In cases where management is not readily available, a covered insurance benefit, or not feasible (i.e. an individual with cognitive challenges) it may be beneficial to designate a family member to learn how to provide management or consider an advocate who can provide the service. Medications can only be effective when they are taken as prescribed.
I hope to get some of my readers’ feedback on this one..to Your Health!