'Prescription Switching' Would Make Most Patients Unhappy

Switching Out Meds Safely

According to the National Consumers League, therapeutic substitution can save money and even deliver drugs that are more effective. But the practice is inherently risky if the new drug doesn't work as well as the old, or introduces new side effects or interactions. The league has this advice for patients:

  • Make sure your doctor knows when a switch has taken place, and takes into account all other medications you are taking as well.
  • Know what medications you are taking, and talk to your doctor if you think there's been a switch.
  • If your insurance company contacts you about a switch, talk to your doctor.
  • Always ask: Will the medication work better? Will it be cheaper? Are there new side effects, including interactions with other drugs and foods?

SOURCES: Sally Greenberg, executive director, National Consumers League, Washington, D.C.; Robert Freeman, Ph.D., professor, pharmaceutical sciences, Texas A&M Health Science Center Irma Lerma Rangel College of Pharmacy, Kingsville; Curtis Haas, Pharm.D., director, pharmacy, University of Rochester Medical Center; Oct. 20, 2008, Consumers' Views on Therapeutic Substitution survey

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