Have you ever taken your usual prescription allergy medication and found your heart rate and blood pressure skyrocketing? What about your daily cholesterol pill causing extreme dizziness and lack of coordination? Or how about when your magic pill does not produce its usual effect? We’re not talking about placebos here. Prescription medications can get mixed up or mislabeled, and the results can prove disastrous.
A blood pressure medication was recently recalled by the FDA because of mislabeling. The bottle was supposed to contain hydrochlorothiazide tablets, but instead contained spironolactone tablets. Although both medications are used to treat high blood pressure and prevent fluid build up, they have different mechanisms of action, contraindications, and side effects. Doctors prescribe specific drugs tailored toward each individual patient, so even slight changes can bring dangerous results. FDA officials said, “The effects of mixing up the medications depend on the individual but can range from limited to life-threatening.”
You must be vigilant and protect yourself. One in 1,000 prescriptions is the wrong medication or the wrong dose. Always double check your pills to match the prescription. Another issue to be aware of is drug interactions. Sometimes different doctors prescribe different medicines and are unaware of how they might interact. Be sure to bring a list of medications to every doctor you see and double check with your pharmacist about taking multiple drugs. Don’t forget about over the counter medications. Just because a prescription is not needed, does not make it benign. Again, let your doctors and pharmacist know everything you take.
I have experienced this first hand. During a particularly brutal stomach bug, I was prescribed two medications. Somehow in my delirium, I noticed both pill bottles had the same label. One of them was correct because the description on the bottle matched that of the pill. Prescription pills have unique identifying markings so I looked the other pills up on google and confirmed that it was the other medication the doctor told me she was prescribing. Luckily, I was supposed to take these medications concurrently and when the symptoms abated, I no longer needed the medication.
We tend to trust that the pharmacists, doctors, and manufacturers know what they’re doing. They are professionals after all. But it pays to double check, because they are just people, and people are prone to making mistakes. If you or anyone you know have experienced health issues from prescription mislabeling or bad drug combinations, contact Reich and Binstock today.