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Proximity, price outweigh technology in consumers’ choice of pharmacies


DURHAM, N.C. Fully one in three Americans who take prescription medicines have experienced a prescription error or say they know someone who has, a new consumer survey finds.

 The just-released Parata Prescription Safety 2008 poll appears to bolster the case for pharmacy technology vendors, who assert that robotic dispensing technology and other pharmacy technology can greatly reduce medication errors.

More than half of American adults take at least one prescription daily, according to the Parata survey and other reseaerch. However, researchers argue in a report on the results released Thursday, “increased prescription use has not been accompanied by increased consumer vigilance.”

Instead, consumers “readily admit to choosing their pharmacies for speed and convenience, rather than for safe prescription practices” the company reported. Half of those polled cited “proximity to work or home” as the top reason for choosing one pharmacy over another.

The second most cited reason for choosing a particular pharmacy is price, cited by 23 percent of respondents, Parata reported. “Interestingly, a pharmacy's use of "automated dispensing equipment," a proven strategy for reducing prescription errors, ranked last in importance, cited by just 2 percent of respondents,” pollsters noted.

The vast majority of prescription-takers [80 percent] spend less than two minutes speaking to their pharmacists when they pick up their medications, according to Parata, and almost half [45 percent] don't talk to them at all. And while 91 percent of consumers asked could name the doctors who wrote their last prescriptions, only 36 percent could name the pharmacists who filled them, the survey found.

Nevertheless, far more respondents ranked pharmacists as principally responsible for ensuring their prescriptions are accurate than those who said their doctors mostly filled that role, by a margin of 49 percent to 15 percent for doctors.

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