Addressing Supplement Interaction with Medications

by pharmacy on November 13, 2013

supplement-interactions-medicationPharmacies are seeing an ever increasing number of clients who are using vitamin and mineral supplements in addition to their daily routine. These supplements can range from multivitamins, joint relief supplements like glucosamine, iron, and more. These supplements are often used alongside medications that a client is already taking. Pharmacists can do their part to monitor clients for potential supplement interactions by addressing these possibilities when a client is filling their prescriptions. This screening can also occur when a pharmacist is helping a client select a supplement, with the pharmacist inquiring as to the individual’s current prescription regime.

Drug-supplement interactions are not commonly recognized, and may require more care when addressing or isolating their symptoms as a possible issue. Studies report that over 50% of patients with a chronic illness or cancer augment their prescription routine with nutritional supplements. An interaction is considered serious if it changes a patient’s response to a medication, or causes changes to their nutrition.

While supplement use continues to rise, pharmacies and pharmacists can do their part to aid their communities by educating their clients about the potential dangers of drug-supplement interactions. Pharmacists can provide literature and workshops to help raise awareness of this issue, as well as continue client-level discussions when clients are interacting one-on-one with a pharmacist. Supplement-drug interactions can seriously decrease medication effectiveness in some cases, resulting in a less effective treatment. Studies show that 70% of clients will not inform their primary care physician of any supplements they are taking. Pharmacists can encourage clients to maintain a list of current medication schedules which includes any supplements the client is currently taking.

Many clients see supplements as being all-natural and safe to take regardless of current medication regime. Pharmacists can help clients through literature and consultation, ensuring that their supplements are not counteracting any current medication that they may be taking. Clients most at risk are those with chronic illnesses taking multiple medications to help manage a condition, clients who are elderly, those with compromised nutritional status, and pregnant women. Pharmacists can reach out to caretakers of the elderly, and help to ensure that elderly clients are not experiencing any drug-supplement interactions.

Helping clients ensure that their nutritional supplements are not impacting their health in a negative manner is often overlooked detail in day to day routines. How do you handle this in your pharmacy?

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