By: Papatya Tankut, RPh, Vice President of Pharmacy Affairs at CVS/pharmacy
November 29, 2012
Last month, Superstorm Sandy disrupted millions of lives, leaving thousands of East Coast residents coping with damaged property and many were and continue to be displaced from their homes. Understandably, such a disruption in people’s lives can alter normal, day-to-day habits, such as taking prescribed medications. However, neglecting to take medications as prescribed can be costly and even life-threatening.
As communities in New Jersey and New York continue to recover from the storm, it is important for residents to remember to put their health first and continue to take medications as directed and most importantly, to remember to refill their prescriptions as needed. And for those who have fallen out of taking their prescribed medications as directed, local pharmacists can make it easy to get back on track. When people forget to fill their prescriptions or neglect to take their medications as directed by their doctor, they put their health at risk and increase the likelihood of requiring more costly health care treatments, such as hospitalization or extra trips to the doctor. Adhering to the medications that consumers are prescribed is a simple and cost-effective way to stay healthy.
Developing an on-going, personalized relationship with a local pharmacist is a key preventative measure to better prepare patients for natural disasters or other unexpected events. Pharmacists are the most accessible health care providers in the community and are available to help customers replace lost medications or to work directly with patients’ doctors to secure new prescriptions.
Most chain drugstores, including CVS/pharmacy, maintain secure electronic prescription records for all customers, so it is easy to access patients’ prescription history and to easily refill at any of its 7,400 locations. Even those who were forced to relocate because of the storm or whose local store is closed due to storm damage can get their prescriptions filled at any other location.
Also, consumers should remember to never share prescription medications with family members or others, even if it may be tempting to do so if their own medication was lost during the storm. While it may appear that someone else is taking the same medication, it important to keep in mind that each prescription is written for an individual patient and individuals may not be aware of differences in medication strength, dosage or directions. If a prescription is lost, it is recommended to speak directly with a pharmacist either face-to-face or over-the-phone to help replace it safely.
As an ongoing preventative measure, customers should also regularly review contents of their medicine cabinets and replace items as necessary. And if items were lost or damaged in the storm, they should be replaced as quickly as possible. The following is a checklist of medicine-cabinet must-haves:
- Symptom relief medicines for common ailments such as:
- Pain relievers such as acetaminophen, aspirin tablets and ibuprofen. If you have children, children’s versions of these products are also recommended
- Cough suppressant. If you have children, a suppressant that is appropriate for their age group
- Benadryl to treat allergy symptoms or allergic reactions
- Antacid (Tums, Rolaids) to calm upset stomach
- First Aid materials
- Alcohol wipes or rubbing alcohol, gauze pads, hydrogen peroxide, cotton balls or swabs, antibiotic ointment like bacitracin and adhesive bandages and tape should be kept on hand to cover cuts and scrapes
- Cortisone cream to treat rashes
- Calamine lotion to treat itching and irritation of poison ivy, poison oak or insect bites
- General necessities
- Tweezers to remove splinters
- An oral medicine syringe to use when giving medicine to small children
I am hopeful that each day brings families closer to their normal routines and communities one step further toward rebuilding the destruction left behind by Superstorm Sandy. And continuing to take prescribed medications as directed is an important step that should not be forgotten or neglected on the road to recovery.