Report: Many Pharmacists Fail To Warn Of Toxic Drug Interactions

Dec 21, 2016

Credit flickr/EricHunsaker

A Chicago Tribune investigation found pharmacists often miss potentially dangerous interactions that could occur when mixing prescription drugs.

The newspaper visited more than 200 pharmacies and found more than half missed what could be life threatening combinations. 

These days, pharmacy record keeping is highly computerized.  But that doesn’t prevent mistakes. The computers are supposed to alert pharmacists to drug interactions, but they also point out other matters like insurance information.  Add to that, those behind the counter are filling dozens of prescriptions a day and they get what is called “flag fatigue.”

“In other words, they see so many issues flagged that they just get immune to the number of warnings there,” said Ray Long, Investigative Reporter for the Tribune. 

“Some of these pharmacists told us they fill hundreds of prescriptions a day, giving them only a minute or two, maybe three in some cases, to check for drug interactions.”

The investigation has already resulted in many of the companies making changes, including a revision of policies, computer monitoring and training. Gov. Bruce Rauner has ordered Illinois agencies under his direction to see what can be done. Sen. Dick Durbin has asked for a federal standard for pharmacists to follow.  Others are also weighing in on regulations.