August 14, 2013
Survey Respondents Said They Want More Pharmacist Counseling on Drug Side Effects

Washington, D.C.—Nearly a third of respondents to a recent survey said they had stopped taking a medication because they found the side effects intolerable, and more than half said they wished their pharmacist would talk more to them about medication side effects.

The survey of 1,040 U.S. adults was conducted by Wakefield Research for Biotene, a specially formulated mouthwash to help mitigate dry mouth. While some of the findings were focused on dry mouth, a common drug side effect, the survey also had some general information on how patients view side effects and their pharmacists’ role in helping them manage those unintended consequences.

Conducted between May 1 and May 8 this year, the survey used an email invitation and an online vehicle for response.

More than half of the respondents who were currently taking a prescription medication said they have stopped or wanted to stop taking medications due to side effects and, of those who actually terminated drug therapy, 21% said dry mouth was the cause. The survey report noted that dry mouth could be a side effect of common medications such as antidepressants, antihistamines, and antipsychotics as well as the commonly used medications for anxiety, high blood pressure, heart disease, diabetes, and high cholesterol. It further noted that patients on three or more medications have a 35% increase in risk of dry mouth.

The survey also included questions about the role of pharmacists in counseling patients on side effects. A majority of the respondents, 55%, said they wished their pharmacist would talk to them more about side effects when they pick up medications; the affirmative response to the question was even greater, 65%, among young adults, 18-25.

“Patients head to the pharmacy to get their prescriptions filled, but sometimes pharmacists and patients miss an important opportunity to talk about medication side effects,” said Sharon Joseph, senior brand manager for Biotene, a product of GlaxoSmithKline.

“Sharing side effect information along with medications can have a two-fold benefit,” added Pamala S. Marquess, PharmD, president of the Georgia Pharmacy Association and compensated Biotene spokesperson. “It most importantly helps patients stick with their prescribed treatment plans, but it can also help increase store revenue. Adding an OTC to a prescription drug order to effectively help a patient manage a side effect can increase overall store revenue while also helping the patient be more comfortable and manage a side effect, like dry mouth, that has negative ramifications if left untreated.”

The survey suggested that patients are uninformed about the potential problems caused by dry mouth, with 76% of those responding saying they did not realize dry mouth is a medical condition that should be treated. The survey report pointed out that dry mouth can almost triple the risk of tooth decay.

U.S. Pharmacist Social Connect