Chicago pharmacies often sell risky drug combinations without warning customers

Approximately 52 percent of pharmacies in the Chicago area dispense dangerous drug pairs without warning the patient, according to the Chicago Tribune.

As the most comprehensive study of its kind, the Tribune tested 255 Chicago-area pharmacies on their practices regarding the dispensation of dangerous drug combinations. While results varied from pharmacy to pharmacy, a majority (52 percent) distributed risky drug pairs without counseling the patient on the harmful or even fatal effects of the potential adverse interactions.

The Tribune study revealed independent pharmacies failed to consult patients 72 percent of the time, followed by CVS (63 percent), Kmart (60 percent), Costco (60 percent), Wal-Mart (43 percent), Jewel-Osco (43 percent), Mariano's (7 percent) and Walgreens (30 percent).

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In the wake of these findings, Carmen Catizone, executive director of the National Association of Boards of Pharmacy, urged states to pass tough laws requiring pharmacists to counsel patients when they pick up medications and publicly disclose pharmacy medication errors, according to a follow-up article from the Chicago Tribune. The director also said authorities should look into whether setting minimum staffing requirements at pharmacies could quell potential problems caused by high workload issues.

Illinois Sen. Dick Durbin (D) sent letters to industry groups representing the pharmacies requesting information on policies in place to reduce the risk of dangerous drug interactions.

Sen. Durbin also penned a letter to the CDC, in which he requested the agency issue guidelines to state boards of pharmacy and private industry groups to ensure the organizations take appropriate measures to protect consumers. In the letter, the senator said he is "deeply concerned by what appears to be an underlying problem of misplaced emphasis on quick service over patient safety," According to the Tribune.

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