Though I am a proponent of physician dispensing as a means for benefiting patients and practices alike, it is important to be vigilant in dispensing responsibly.   In January 2008, The Office of National Drug Control Policy published a study on the non-medical use of prescription and OTC drugs among teens.  A few results from this study are listed below:

  • In 2006, more than 2.1 million teens (ages 12-17) abused prescription drugs
  • Pain relievers like Vicodin and OxyContin are most commonly abused
  • About 3.1 million people aged 12-25 had ever used an OTC cough and cold medication to get high (2006)
  • 31% of teens believe there’s “nothing wrong” with using prescription medications without a prescription once in a while. (2006)
  • 40% of teens believe that prescription medications are much safer than illicit drugs
  • 70% of pain relievers are acquired from a friend or relative (knowingly or unknowingly)
  • 27% of parents feel that prescription and OTC drugs are much safer to abuse than street drugs

Awareness seems to be a common theme in the study.  As prescribing professionals, our job is to focus on the well-being of our patients.  However, with some products, it might make sense to broaden our view a bit and remind our patients of the importance of maintaining control of prescription medications as well as discussing the risks with their children.

Medication dispensing within the practice presents an opportunity to discuss this with patients as part of their overall care.  Sharing appropriate drug information sheets and giving the patient the opportunity to ask questions creates an environment for discussing the risks to the patient as well as their family.

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