General Question

Jeruba's avatar

What kind of doctor or healthcare practitioner do you see to find out about side effects and interactions of meds?

Asked by Jeruba (49792points) April 19th, 2009

I take a rather complex assortment of meds, and I have been thinking for some time that there could be some undesirable results going on. Every doctor I see knows the list, but doctors are not especially trained in pharmaceuticals. A pharmacist can point out some possible conflicts and interactions but is not really available to sit down with me and go through my own actual symptoms and possible side effects in detail. A website such as can give me standard warnings based on chemical composition and statistics but not advise me on specific reactions and where to consider making changes.

Just for an example, one doctor prescribed for me a certain med for pain and an accompanying OTC drug to alleviate the side effects of the pain med. But the analysis of interactions calls out that specific combination as inadvisable and also recommends against combining that OTC med with a drug prescribed by another doctor.

I don’t like taking any meds, and sometimes I feel that I’d like to stop them all and just see what happens. At other times I think they’re what keep me going as well as I do.

Where should I go for someone who will actually help me study my set of prescriptions and figure out which are perhaps not working well for me?

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8 Answers

augustlan's avatar

For the pain meds specifically, you could try a chronic pain specialist. As far as more/different meds, I would try to schedule an appointment with your pharmacist. Some will actually devote the time for a sit-down evaluation. Good luck!

Snoopy's avatar

@Jeruba You may also want to investigate whether or not your health insurance/health plan may have a nurse or nurse practitioner available for phone consultation who can drill done and focus on your issues.

If not, I would suggest making an appointment w/ your internist, citing a need for “medication review” as your reason for the visit at the time of the appointment.

Bring in all of your drugs (obviously), a list of your concerns and hopefully the two of you will be able to streamline your medications and sort out your problem.

Lightlyseared's avatar

A phamacist.

ok I admit it I answered and then read the details

Snoopy's avatar

@Lightlyseared A pharmacist is the most obvious and logical choice. In practicality, however, the local CVS pharmacist won’t have the time to devote the attention necessary to Jeruba’s questions.

hearkat's avatar

Pharmacology or Toxicology are the fields of study for such interactions, but there aren’t really any clinical practitioners that are specialists that I’m aware of. I can’t begin to imagine what it must be like to be in that situation, and I hope you find answers that ease your mind and your medical conditions. Here’s what my research has found:

American Association of Poison Control Centers
I was in the hospital with a loved one who had overdosed… the E.R. doctor called the Poison Control Center to get verification of the levels of toxicity, interactions and treatment. They may have resources available to you and/or your pharmacist or primary physician.

FDA Medical Product Safety Information
Database includes information on Drugs, Biologics, Medical Devices, Special Nutritionals, and Cosmetics
also FDA Drug Development and Drug Interactions: Related Links

Drug Interaction Checkers:

Rx List – The Internet Drug Index
A comprehensive database of drug information.

The Hamner Institutes for Health Sciences
Their Mission: “Improve public health through better predictive assessments of chemical and drug safety while helping to develop new breakthrough medicines and diagnostics.” Includes a Center for Drug Safety Sciences

casheroo's avatar

Pharmacologist know all about this, but they do more research than working with the general public. You can actually make appointments with Pharmacists, to sit down with them and talk.

ptarnbsn's avatar

I agree with Snoopy. You really need to make an appointment with your internist and review all the medications you are taking along with any side effects or symptoms you are having. It is best not to get medications from multiple doctors unless they are specialists and they have conferred with your internist regarding your problems. There are times a doctor will prescribe a medication for something that the medication is not “generally” used for but some research has shown benefits for other problems. For example, cholestyramine is used for high cholesterol but one of its side effects is constipation therefore it is used some for chronic diarrhea. Your pharmacist may not know why your doctor has prescribed certain medications. Therefore, your doctor is your best source to answer your questions. Be sure to take any meds you have gotten from other doctors.

mattbrowne's avatar

I’m amazed by the sheer number of online tools avaialble. A search for drug interaction check on Google returns almost 3 million results. Where to begin? I’m not sure Google’s page rank algorithm correlates with the quality of the interaction checks. Maybe the best is to call an expert. I’m sure some of the organizations mentioned by @hearkat do have hotlines. Good luck!

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