Don’t miss a dose

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Did you know that over 50% of Canadians with chronic disease don’t take their medications as prescribed? This is a serious health care challenge with real consequences – both for the health of patients and for the health care system as a whole.

Consider these facts:

  • 69% of medication-related hospitalizations are due to prescription drug non-adherence
  • The estimated annual cost of medication non-adherence to Canada’s health care system was $7-9 billion – and rising
  • In North America, 125,000 unnecessary deaths per year are attributed to non-adherence.

That’s scary stuff if you have struggled to stay on your medications as prescribed.  But you’re not alone – especially if you’re a patient who has been newly diagnosed with a chronic disease.  The good news is, you have a medication expert in your neighbourhood who can help – your local pharmacist.

Many patients feel tempted to stop taking their medications when they feel better – but that’s not a good idea.  Josephine Moriana-Fossella, a pharmacist at Shoppers Drug Mart in Vaughan, Ontario, explains why:

  • “For short-term illnesses like infections, medications such as antibiotics require full adherence. You will likely start to feel better after a few days, but that’s not enough to cure the illness. Stopping your medications early risks creating resistant strains of bacteria – which may lead to re-infection.”
  • “It’s also important to take medication as directed. Following directions like taking your pills with food or after a meal will help ensure that the body is absorbing the medication properly.”
  • “For patients with chronic diseases – like diabetes, high blood pressure or heart and kidney disease – you may feel better after a while, but that’s not a reason to stop taking your medication. There are silent symptoms that could cause, for instance, blindness, heart attack or stroke.  Chronic conditions require a lifelong commitment to medication to halt the progression of the disease.”

That’s good advice – but we know that life happens, and it’s all too easy to forget a dose.  What should you do if you miss a dose of your medication? Karin Basran, a pharmacist at Shoppers Drug Mart in Burnaby, BC, has some tips:

  • “If you forget to take a dose, let your pharmacist know. For the vast majority of patients, you will be advised to take your next dose at the normal time and in the normal amount, and then continue with your normal schedule.”
  • “It’s important that you don’t double up on your medication when you forget to take a dose. Taking twice the amount could bring your medication levels too high, and could even cause side effects like drowsiness, dizziness or disorientation, depending on the medication.”
  • “If the time you’re supposed to take your medication isn’t conducive to your schedule, talk to your pharmacist and come up with a time that works best, perhaps at mealtime. We can also suggest a 7-day blister pack to organize your medications and to help ensure you’re taking the right ones at the right times.”

Whatever your medication questions are, remember that your local Shoppers Drug Mart pharmacist is there to help. They can provide you with personalized advice and counseling, easy prescription refills, refill reminders, help with organizing your medications, and depending on your province of residence, medication reviews.

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