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Medication Safety

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On Monday, February 22, Pain News Network announced that “President Barack Obama declined to endorse a sweeping proposal by some governors to put limits on the number of opioid painkillers that doctors can prescribe, saying such a policy would be unfair to rural Americans who don’t have easy access to pain medication or addiction treatment programs.”
This can indeed be seen as good news for the 100 million Americans who live with chronic pain, including the 10 million with fibromyalgia.  Chronic, widespread pain is one of the primary symptoms of fibromyalgia, and while opioids are just one tool in the toolkit of treating that pain, it is important that access be preserved for those who do benefit. 


As reported earlier, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) has also proposed guidelines on opioid prescribing. CDC data indicate that in 2013, more than 16,000 people in the US died from prescription painkillers. The sad fact is that many of those people who died were not prescribed those drugs; instead, they got them from “Grandma’s medicine cabinet” or from someone who stole them from a person who did have legitimate reason for the prescription but didn’t keep the pills locked up.  It is therefore incumbent upon all of us to practice good medication safety. 
Celeste Cooper’s Medication Safety article offers many practical tips. 
Why we need to discuss medication safety:

  • Overlapping or co-existing medical conditions differ from patient to patient.  The medication your friend takes may not be the right medication for you; it might even be harmful.

  • People with chronic pain often take more than one medication. 

  • Medications don’t always act well together. One may enhance the effects of another or interfere with the absorption of another, including over-the-counter preparations.

  • Medication interactions can be life threatening. 

Know Your Medications

Medications help us improve function, which is the goal in any case, but certain precautions are necessary. Exercising medication safety could save your life.

Protect your loved ones by sharing this information. 

The fewer medications we take, the better; however, that is not always possible. For this reason, you should know:?

  • The different names that can be applied to the same medications.

  • Why you are taking the medication.

  • Interactions between medications and what they are. 

  • Symptoms to report to your doctor. 

Prescription medications are not the only thing to be considered. Some medications can be affected by over-the-counter supplements, analgesics, natural preparations, herbals, and in some cases, certain foods. If in doubt, ask your pharmacist. Understanding all these things will help minimize risk.
Other Things to Do:

  • Keep a complete list, including allergies in a “Medication Log” and follow information and use the helpful sheets you can find in our books.

  • Give your pharmacist a complete list of all your medications, supplements, and other over-the-counter preparations.

  • Discuss new medications with your pharmacist and ask what you should watch for and report.

  • If you have to price shop to minimize financial burden, make sure all your pharmacies have a complete list.

  • Report any unusual symptoms to your doctor immediately, even if they are from over-the-counter preparations. 

  • If you have any signs of an allergic reaction, such as swelling, hives, or difficulty breathing, seek emergency treatment

  • Keep an updated medication list that includes allergies, reactions, and include any medication you stopped, why, and the date.

  • Let others who live with you, or close family and friends, know when you are starting a new medication or over-the-counter preparation.

  • Keep your pharmacist’s number handy. Ask them for their business card, and call them if you have questions. Having a pharmacist that takes their job seriously is just as important as having any other healthcare provider that does the same.

  • Do NOT assume your physician or pharmacist is reporting any adverse reactions. 

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