Brown Bag Medication Review: What is it and why should you do it?

woman considering a brown bag medication reviewConducting a brown bag medication review on a regular basis can significantly protect your health. This is an important activity for everyone who takes medications and/or supplements. We often think of vitamins and supplements as “natural” but that is a misnomer. They are for all intent and purposes a drug capable of harming you and/or reacting with medication you are taking.

To take part in a brown bag medication review simply fill a bag with the prescription medications, supplements, vitamins, and over-the-counter medications that you take. Even if you only take them occasionally, include them in the bag along with the items you take on a daily basis. Take this bag to your pharmacist for a brown bag medication review. Since this process can take 30 minutes or more, it is a good idea to schedule an appointment for this activity.

Brown bag medication reviews is a term used to describe the activity of putting all your medications into a bag and taking them to your pharmacist or doctor for review. It is an important activity to help people derive maximum benefit from their medicines and identify potential medication-related problems.

Think a brown bag medication review is not important? Frequently people believe strongly that they understand every medication and supplement they are taking.  However, an actual study proved just how important this task is when nearly 70% of the study participants were in dire need of this important activity.

brown bag medication reviewThe study was conducted by Nathan A, Goodyer L, Lovejoy A and Rashid A. and termed ‘Brown bag’ and was later reported in Family Practice 1999. Brown bag medication reviews were carried out on 205 volunteer patients. Pharmacists analyzed medications used by these patients to improve their knowledge and usage of their medicines, to identify clinical problems, and to identify the drug groups most likely to cause problems.

  • Nearly 70% of the 205 volunteer patients had issues that needed to be addressed through changing their medication or how they used it.
  • 24 were in danger of experiencing life-threatening situations
  • 70 needed some form of change in their medications or how they were using them
  • 48 gained an understanding they did not previously have about their medications
  • Only 63 out of the 204 volunteer patients understood their medications, were using them correctly, and were not taking medications that may adversely interact with one another.

Read the complete report here: http://fampra.oxfordjournals.org/content/16/3/278.full

Keep in mind that according to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), 100,000 Americans die from reactions to prescription drugs each year, making this the fourth leading cause of death in the U.S. Take the time to schedule a brown bag review on a regular basis. Make sure every doctor you see knows every medication and supplement you are taking. Understand that not only do medications and supplements interact with each other, they also interact with many foods and drinks. Medication management, which includes regular brown bag reviews, is extremely important.