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    Report: Pharmacists dispensing dangerous drug combos


    Walgreens, CVS Health and other drug chains promised to improve procedures after a Chicago Tribune investigation found that pharmacists at several retail chains filled prescriptions with dangerous drug combinations.

    In its investigation, the newspaper tested 255 Chicago-area pharmacies to see how often stores would dispense dangerous drug pairs without warning patients. The investigation found that 52% of pharmacies dispensed drugs without warning about potential dangerous interactions.

    For example, pharmacists at an Evanston CVS pharmacy filled a script for the antibiotic clarithromycin and one for the anti-cholesterol drug simvastatin (Zocor) together, without warning the reporter of the potential fatal side effects such as kidney failure when taking the two drugs together.
    The tests were conducted at Wal-Mart, CVS Health, Walgreens, Target, Kmart, Costco, Jewel-Osco and Mariano’s – as well as at independent pharmacies.

    Independent pharmacies had the highest failure rate at 72%, followed by CVS at 63% and Target at 62%. Walgreens had the lowest failure rate at 30%.

    CVS Health is “very disappointed” with the investigation’s results, the chain said in a statement issued to Drug Topics. As a result, CVS Health is making several changes “to dramatically increase the number of interventions our pharmacists will make with patients or their prescribers regarding potential drug interactions.”

    CVS Health changes include:

    1.    For DUR alerts with the greatest potential safety risks, pharmacists will be required to intervene by consulting with the patient or their prescriber to resolve any potential issues that may exist with the prescription(s) involved. 

    Christine Blank
    Contributing Editor Christine Blank is a freelance writer based in Florida.

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    • Anonymous
      Patient counselling, drug interactions, appropriate dosing and the other 100 things a Pharmacist must do on a given day all have the common denominator of time to do them all which is directly related to the amount of Technician support and the quality of that support. Neither of which do most Pharmacists have control over. The remedy that CVS proposes just increases the liability of the individual Pharmacist but once again does not address the bigger picture of Pharmacist workload. It would be interesting to have the NTSB or ISMP to objectively look at the work environments that most of us work in. I think most people would be appalled by the working conditions most of us work in.