In good hands at your pharmacy

Barbara Kursawe

Barbara Kursawe, pharmacist and owner of the TopPharm Homberg pharmacy in Beinwil am See

May 25, 2021

More than 70% of people over 65 years of age take more than 5 medicine per day. And 50 to 60% of people with chronic diseases take their medicine the wrong way. That’s why Polymedication Check (PMC) is vital. Forgetting to take the medicine or irregular intake can be a struggle and can minimize the effect. That’s why pharmacies deliver the service with a blister. To learn more about the services and what are blisters suitable for, keep reading this article.

Health professionals recommend a regular pharmacy in addition to the family doctor. What can you offer your customers as a regular pharmacy?

If customers obtain all their medicines from the same pharmacy, it increases their personal safety, because all medicines are checked for mutual interactions, dosage errors, and duplications as standard. In addition, it is more pleasant and easier if pharmacists and customers know each other personally because pharmacies are increasingly offering new services in addition to medicines, cosmetics, and products for prevention.

Which services do you have in mind?

One service that is appreciated by customers is the so-called Polymedication Check (PMC). This is an in-depth and documented medication discussion that is conducted with the pharmacist in the care room. The discussion usually lasts about 20 minutes. The costs are covered by the health insurance twice a year, provided that at least 4 different medicines are prescribed by a doctor over a period of 3 months.

4 different medications over 3 months do not sound like a lot of complicated. Polymedication is the use of ‘many medicines’. Does this service really make sense?

The service makes absolute sense! Various studies have shown that only about 50 to 60% of all people with chronic diseases take their medication correctly. In the numerous polymerization discussions that we have already held in our pharmacy, we can confirm this fact. Frequent reasons for the decline in adherence to therapy are the lack of knowledge about the necessity and the effects of the therapy or prescriptions that do not fit into everyday life. Both are points that we address in the conversation and answer the patients’ questions in this area. If we find that everyday problems interfere with taking the medication correctly, we look for specific solutions for the client’s personal situation. This increases the motivation to take the medication more reliably and correctly again.

Are there any other aspects that you have repeatedly observed during the Polymedication Check?

Complicated or irregular dosages can make it difficult to manage the medication in some situations. Dosage instructions with tablets cut in half are not as easy to put into practice as they first appear. Some tablets are difficult to halve per se, crumble or shatter into uneven pieces. Other tablets are very small and not suitable for cutting in half. Prescriptions such as ‘every 2nd-day’ place additional demands on the organization around the medication. Parallel prescriptions of original medicines and generics, when prescribed by different doctors or after leaving the hospital, are also common.

And what about forgetfulness in the area of taking medication?

Forgetting to take tablets or uncertainty about whether the tablets have even been taken today are also very frequent points of discussion. Most of the time, our clients are reluctant to talk about it. But forgetting rarely has anything to do with age! Those who take medication for a long time get into a routine. We often do routine tasks unconsciously. For example, how often do we ask ourselves whether we have locked the front door? It is the same with medication. Simple tricks or aids, such as preparing medicines in weekly doses or having the pharmacy professionally prepare medicines in medicine blisters, can help.

What are the health effects of omitted or forgotten tablets?

The consequences depend on various factors. The number of tablets that are omitted in one go is certainly the decisive factor. The active substance and its behavior in the body also play a role. Each active ingredient behaves differently with regard to absorption, degradation, and excretion from the body. Basically, it can be said that it takes about 3 successive drug intakes, i.e. usually 2 to 3 days, to restore the active substance level in the blood after the active substance has been omitted. In connection with vital medicines, a single omission attempt can therefore already have consequences.

Surely drug interactions are also an issue?

More than 70% of people over 65 take 5 or more medicines every day. Interactions are inevitable. Again and again, we discover that not all doctors involved know about each other or are informed which medicines have also been prescribed by their colleagues. As medication specialists, it is a daily routine for us to uncover such interactions or even side effects. Within the framework of the polymerization check, we look for the appropriate solution together with the prescribing doctors.

What are the advantages of having your medicines professionally prepared by a pharmacy compared to preparing them yourself at home?

Having your medicines prepared by a pharmacy offers you additional security. All blisters are prepared by a specialist and checked by the pharmacist and released with a personal visa. In addition, medication waste can be minimized with the professional Pharmis® system solution. In this way, you also save on medication costs. This pays off especially in the case of frequently changing prescriptions, e.g. after hospital discharges or spa stays. As a rule, pharmacies also offer a delivery service with the blister. This means that you automatically receive the new weekly blister and any additional products. The empty blisters are taken back by the pharmacy and disposed of properly. –

What happens when your personal medication changes?

If the dosage of medication changes or a new medication is prescribed, you will receive a new blister with the new medication from your pharmacy. All the pharmacy needs is a prescription from the doctor or a new dosage prescription. The blister with the ‘old prescription’ is taken back and the tablets it contains can be reused due to batch traceability. Because medication costs can be saved with Pharmis®, you and your health insurance fund benefit increasingly when Pharmis® is used for a longer period of time.

Who are Pharmis weekly blisters suitable for?

The pharmacist is suitable for people who:

  • Have to take several medicines every day
  • Want to minimize the risks of interactions between individual medicines
  • Have frequently changing medicines after a hospital or spa stay
  • Want to take their medicines with them on their travels in a convenient form
  • Want to be sure that they take the right medicines at the right time
  • Want support so that they do not forget to take their medicines
  • Want to save on medication costs when receiving care from Scitex
  • Need support when setting up their medicines (visually impaired people, people with Parkinson’s disease, etc.).

The achievements in medicine, but also in nutrition and hygiene, give us people an ever-increasing life expectancy and also a better quality of life in old age. Nevertheless, it is up to each individual to become active in these areas and to be personally concerned about it. The pharmacy as a health center can provide you with valuable services in various respects.

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