Drug firm helps patients help themselves

September 1, 1998

Pharmaceutical Representative

In response to a report in the Journal of the American Medical Association, which found that adverse drug reactions may be one of the top 10 leading causes of death in hospital patients (see Pharmaceutical Representative, June 1998), Milwaukee-based Schwarz Pharma Inc. distributed a list of questions patients should ask physicians before taking prescription medicines.

In response to a report in the Journal of the American Medical Association, which found that adverse drug reactions may be one of the top 10 leading causes of death in hospital patients (see Pharmaceutical Representative, June 1998), Milwaukee-based Schwarz Pharma Inc. distributed a list of questions patients should ask physicians before taking prescription medicines.

The list, which is posted on the company's Web site, directs patients to their physicians and pharmacists for answers to their questions.

"With the availability of so many medical information sources, including direct-to-consumer advertising, it's critical for patients to seek an expert's opinion about any treatment or medication plan," said Joseph Bianchine, M.D., Schwarz Pharma's medical director.

According to Schwarz Pharma, patients should ask:


•Â For what specific condition or treatment are you prescribing this medication?


•Â Are there other treatment options available? Alternative drugs? Generics?


•Â How am I directed to take this medicine? When should I take this medicine? In what amount? Should I take it with or without food?


•Â How long will I remain on this medication - long-term for a chronic condition, or short-term for an acute condition?


•Â What are the potential side effects of this medicine?


•Â Under what circumstances should I discontinue use of this medication? For example, should I take the medication if I have high blood pressure, am pregnant or breast feed?


•Â If I am taking other medications, is there an increased risk for potential side effects or adverse reactions?


•Â After reading the information provided by the drug manufacturer and my pharmacist, do I have any additional questions?

Schwarz Pharma also encouraged patients to provide their physicians with lists of all prescription and over-the-counter medications they take, and alert their physicians and pharmacists of personal or family medical history that could impact tolerance or reaction to particular medications.

The company also recommended that patients comply with dosage and regimen instructions, educate themselves about potential side effects and adverse reactions and avoid borrowing or loaning prescribed medications to friends and family members. PR