Community's Knowledge of Prescription Medications Rises; So Does Use of Herbal Supplements

Pharmacists know some over-the-counter remedies/supplements may interact harmfully with prescription meds. PULSE of NY runs "Brown Bag It" events where people can bring all their medications and get advice from pharmacists about any possible risks.

In just four hours on February 26 at the Freeport Memorial Library, Long Island New York, scores of residents came to have their medications checked by pharmacists and pharmacy students. Organized by patient safety advocacy group PULSE of NY, "Brown Bag It NY" has become an annual Long Island event at which community members are encouraged to bring medications and have a conversation with a pharmacist and pharmacy students.

"One common problem is many people take several self-prescribed vitamins and supplements because a friend told them about them or they read article in a magazine, or saw it on TV", said John Bilello, R.Ph. pharmacist and board member of PULSE of NY. "Some of these supplements have no medical validity. But because the people feel good and their blood tests are normal, they believe it works. The students were able to apply their knowledge in a real world setting and get experience dealing with the public, which most of them will be doing when they graduate".

This is the fifth time PULSE of NY has organized this program for the community.

"Community members this year seemed to be on top of their medication regimens," explained Manouchkathe Cassagnol, Pharm.D., CGP, BCPS. "I also found that the use of herbal supplements and over the counter items was the highest I have ever seen." Prescription and over-the-counter drugs may not play well together, and, said Cassagnol, "this year there were some dangerous cocktails that led to significant drug-drug interactions. The use of a pharmacy drug information specialist was integral to providing our services that day."

Maria L. Franco, PharmD, CGP, saw community members at the Brown Bag It event and wants people to know, "It is important to have medications including supplements and herbal medicines evaluated by a pharmacist at least annually to ensure appropriateness. Some pharmacists specialize in particular disease states, for example, diabetes or geriatrics."

To find out more about PULSE of NY and when our next event will be, sign up for our newsletter here: Newsletter Signup.

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