Magazine article Drug Topics

Pharmacists Must Reassure Patients to Avoid Y2K Hoarding

Magazine article Drug Topics

Pharmacists Must Reassure Patients to Avoid Y2K Hoarding

Article excerpt

The doomsday crowd is stockpiling food, water, and guns in remote hideaways; Uncle Sam is printing up an extra $50 billion to stave off bank runs; and several states have put National Guard units on alert to quell possible rioting in the streets next New Year's Day. On the health-care front, there is a concern among some people that a possible computer meltdown may lead to shortages in drug supplies. As a result, some in pharmacy are urging the profession to start reassuring any patients who might be edgy that they really don't need to hoard medications in the countdown to the new millennium.

The popular media is finally getting serious about Y2K, and some national daily newspapers have zeroed in on whether medications will be available. And the potential disruption of electricity, commerce, and health care was enough to move the American Red Cross to post Y2K-preparedness advice on its Web site (www.redcross.org). On its list of things to have on hand prior to the rollover, the Red Cross urges people to have an "ample" supply of prescription medications and over-the-counter remedies.

How to stockpile medications is also a topic of discussion on Internet news groups devoted to Y2K. Some netizens advocate buying medications from foreign sources through the Internet. Others urge fellow Y2Kers to cross the border into Mexico to get a 90-day supply of their meds without a prescription; and some are even considering whether the local veterinarian might be a source of antibiotics to be added to their medication stash.

"I agree that patients on chronic medication would be wise to build up a reserve supply," said a chain pharmacist who is concerned about Y2K. "For patients who have third-party payers, I have suggested that they refill monthly medications five to seven days early each month in order to build up a reserve supply. I have heard nothing from [the chain] on the Y2K subject."

Y2K issues have not gone unnoticed at the American Pharmaceutical Association, which has had discussions with drug manufacturers, wholesalers, computer vendors, and third-party providers about their readiness for rollover. APhA will also likely pursue some way to communicate to patients that their medications will be on pharmacy shelves, said Susan Winckler, director of policy and legislation. …

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