You and your pharmacist should not be strangers, which is why in 2017, The National Community Pharmacists Association (NCPA) joined forces with Consumer Reports to promote the first-ever National Check Your Meds Day. Observed every October 21, consumers are encouraged to bring their prescriptions to their local pharmacists for review. He or she can then dispose of any that have expired, update medications as necessary, and answer any questions that you may have. 

National Check Your Meds Day aims to help you gain a better understanding of what your prescription medication does, and how it affects you. It can also inform you whether or not you are taking them correctly, and if there’s a more cost-effective alternative to what your doctor currently prescribes. If you take medication on a long-term basis, it’s a good idea to schedule a brown-bag review to confirm that you are taking the appropriate medication and dosage for your condition. 

Consumer Reports recently asked the Associate Dean for Clinical Affairs at the University of Southern California School of Pharmacy to review medications taken by 20 individuals who shared their prescription list. In his findings, Steven Chen, Pharm.D., discovered problems in 18 of those, including one person using a combination of blood pressure medicine that could trigger heartbeat abnormalities. National Check Your Meds Day is a time to catch these consequences and sort out obstacles. 

Educate Before You Medicate

In 2016, Americans spent $329 billion on prescription drugs. In 2017, the Centers for Disease Control reported that there were 3.8 billion prescriptions written. That doesn’t include pills consumed. Once that 3.8 billion is broken down, one in five new prescriptions were never filled. Of the 80% that were, 50% were taken incorrectly to some extent, either incorrect timing, dosage, frequency, or duration. Medication reviews are critical for patient safety, participate in this national holiday to improve yours. 

Whether you are starting a new medication, are a victim of medication trial and error, or experiencing undesirable side effects, you can benefit from a medication management session. Before your appointment, make a list of all the drugs your doctor has prescribed so that your pharmacist can clear up any confusion, and make recommendations that might save you money. Never be afraid to ask detailed questions, as you’re entitled to know what you are getting into before you fill your prescription. 

Medication is supposed to help you heal and aid in saving your life. Inappropriate prescribing can result in adverse drug reactions and hospitalizations, so it’s critical to lower your risk when the opportunity arises. If you take multiple medications for a variety of reasons, use over-the-counter medications in addition to your prescriptions, or take more than one drug to treat the same condition, National Check Your Meds Day is the perfect time to learn if you are getting the most out of your drug therapy plan. 

Personalize Prescriptions with Pharmacogenomics (PGX)

Genetic factors can influence how your body responds to medications. Pharmacogenomics studies that response to develop safe, effective medications and doses that can be tailored to your genetic profile. Until recently, drugs have been developed with the idea that each of them works the same for everyone. However, depending on your genetic makeup, some might work more or less efficiently for you as they do for someone else. A PGX test can help you discover how your body processes medication.

Pharmacogenomics aims to help you find the right drug and the proper dosage the first time, without the need for medication trial and error. You should never attempt to adjust your own prescription without consulting with a doctor first. Taking a pharmacogenomic (PGX) test can help you know which drugs to use with caution, or to stay away from as to avoid potential allergies. Results from your test can help you and your prescriber determine if current medications and dosages are the right fit for you. 

If you haven’t heard of pharmacogenomics, familiarize yourself on National Check Your Meds Day. Knowing how your body processes specific medication removes the guessing game from pharmacology and selects only drugs and dosages that are implied to work most effectively with your genetic makeup. Your pharmacogenetic test results can pave the way for personalized drug therapy and increased patient safety.