ALTERNATIVE THERAPY: CVS Asks Customers About Herb Use
Woonsocket, R.I.-based CVS Corp. has launched a program urging its customers to tell pharmacists what herbal supplements they use in an effort to reduce medication side effects. Stores will distribute customer questionnaires, entering the information in confidential patient profiles. The computer then will cross-reference the customer data with prescription drugs, alerting pharmacists to any adverse side effects causing by mixing supplements with other drugs. According to CVS, nearly 40% of those using nutritional supplements fail to alert their physicians. Moreover, the herbal supplement industry -- generating sales of $1.5 billion annually -- is largely unregulated by the federal government, and struggles to educate consumers about product safety, the AP/Richmond Times-Dispatch reports. To educate consumers, CVS has started a national advertising campaign encouraging customers to use the computer drug-interaction service. Likewise, Walgreens, the nation's largest drug chain in terms of sales, also is developing a drug cross-reference database system ( AP/Boston Globe, 1/21).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.