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SENIORS SHOULD BE WARY OF MAIL ORDER DRUGS

 SENIORS SHOULD BE WARY OF MAIL ORDER DRUGS
 ALEXANDRIA, Va., April 28 /PRNewswire/ -- As the cost of health care


spirals upward, health insurance companies are looking at various ways to cut expenses. Some have begun requiring consumers to buy their prescription drugs by mail. This hits older Americans and retirees hard, since they use an average of 15 prescriptions per year -- more than four times the rate for younger persons.
 Mail order pharmacies profit primarily from selling maintenance prescriptions to control high blood pressure, hypertension, diabetes and other ailments that especially affect seniors.
 "These companies often target older Americans, the very ones in the highest risk category," said William Scharringhausen, a suburban Chicago pharmacist and president of NARD, the national association representing independent retail pharmacists. "Almost 25 percent of all hospital stays by older Americans are caused by misusing medication."
 Use of mail order rules out the face-to-face contact with a community pharmacist that is so important for consumers, particularly the elderly who are often seeing more than one doctor. Two drugs that are completely safe when taken alone can be lethal when taken together. Neighborhood pharmacies closely monitor these potential interactions and routinely communicate with prescribing physicians in the community. Out-of-state mail order pharmacies are not even regulated by the same consumer protection laws governing local pharmacies, and it is virtually impossible for them to provide quality health care to patients they never see.
 Large numbers of community pharmacists have reported saving a patient from taking incorrect drugs sent by mail. Some were simply the incorrect dosage, but others were totally wrong -- shipped because they looked similar to the prescription drug that had been ordered.
 A few years ago, an elderly Idaho woman slowly bled to death after taking the wrong mail order drugs for several months. A Virginia woman was lucky enough to catch a potentially deadly mail order mix-up when her local pharmacist discovered she'd been sent a dangerously high dosage of a blood thinner instead of her normal hypertension medication.
 Older Americans who build a long-term personal relationship with their local pharmacist are repaid many times over in the professional advice they receive on their medication needs. The most cost-effective prescription drug decision senior citizens can make is to get to know their neighborhood pharmacist.
 -0- 4/28/92
 /CONTACT: Todd Dankmyer of NARD, 703-683-8200/ CO: NARD ST: Virginia IN: HEA SU:


SM -- NYSFNS15 -- 3505 04/28/92 07:25 EDT
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Publication:PR Newswire
Date:Apr 28, 1992
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