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Cedars-Sinai Magazine

How to Manage Multiple Prescriptions

Disorganized pill bottles spilling medications onto a table.

The more prescriptions a person takes, the more likely they are to miss a dose or experience side effects, says Alexis Lang, PharmD, clinical pharmacist for the Cedars-Sinai Geriatrics Program. "Any time you have more than five medications, it becomes hard to manage them—especially if each has to be taken at a different time of day," Lang says. "There’s also a greater risk of interactions between medications." 

Fortunately, there are tools to help. To better manage your or a loved one’s medications, Lang offers the following tips:

Use a pillbox

Choose one that matches the medication schedule. Along with daily slots for Sunday through Saturday, spots for a.m., noon and p.m. may be needed. Prep the box weekly.

Set alarms

Schedule alarms on your cellphone for audible reminders to take the medications at the prescribed times of day.

Use one pharmacy

Fill all prescriptions at one pharmacy. Build a relationship with the pharmacy staff so they’re familiar with you and your medications. The pharmacist can answer questions and screen for any drug interactions.

Consult your primary care physician

Regularly review all medication with your primary care doctor. Advise them of any symptoms or side effects experienced. This is especially important when you have multiple doctors prescribing medication.

Simplify the regimen

Talk with your pharmacist or primary care doctor to see if medications can be taken fewer times per day,  taken at the same time or even discontinued.