And it works! They wouldn't do it if it didn't. Doctors and other professionals along the way can be dazzled by a sales pitch just like anyone else. It's not like doctors are going to dig up the raw data from years of clinical trials for every drug that comes along; if a perky rep insists a new pill is a miracle drug, they're going to start prescribing it.
The Pharmacy Is The Last Chance To Catch Fatal Mistakes
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A medical doctor spends eight years at a university. They'll have a semester or so of drugs, but mostly it's assumed they'll pick it up along the way. As we mentioned, that's a huge amount of information to try to absorb, particularly when it comes to drug interactions. And even if a particular doctor is a walking database of dangerous drug combinations, he or she is not going to hunt down all the other doctors a patient sees and check what drugs they're prescribing.
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"You also issued him a Cialis prescription? Damn -- I hope I'm that spry when I'm 90."
Pharmacists, however, keep detailed records. That means they're the last line of defense between you and a drug that will make you start squirting blood from both eye sockets. "We have a patient that takes a very old drug called an MAOI. They just put him on it and didn't check any interactions with his current medications. MAOIs are dangerous, specifically due to medication interactions. We actually had to call the doctor and get them to change the medication."
Also, a patient might not tell his doctor about his allergies. If the pharmacist has it on file, she can catch it. This is why you need someone behind the counter who knows what the fuck she's doing, is what we're saying.
This is pretty harmless, except to the people it can kill.
And then there's the equally common economic factors. One reason health care prices skyrocket is that no one involved really checks the prices -- if the doctor decides you need it, they're going to prescribe it. "Doctors don't know prices of medications. I had a patient with shingles (very painful blistering rash) and the antiretroviral that the doctor placed him on cost over $200. The patient had no insurance and the doctor knew that. I called the doctor and had the medication changed to something cheaper."
Doctors may not like being questioned, but they must work with the pharmacists. After all, they are the gatekeepers of the drugs. They have the power to refuse to dispense the meds if there's something wrong. And, as we've made it very clear by now, doctors are as fallible as the rest of us.
"I had a dentist try to fill out a prescription for himself for Viagra. As a medical professional, I had to reject it because it's not in their scope of practice."
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