Rx for Possible Y2K Prescription Drug Headaches

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DALLAS -- There are many points at which a Y2K breakdown could interfere with the production and delivery of prescriptions drugs, says Bruce Webster, author of 'The Y2K Survival Guide.'

Webster, a software engineer and co-chair of the Washington D.C. Year 2000 Group, says of all the potential problems with Y2K, health care concerns him the most.

According to Webster, 80 percent of the raw materials used in prescription drugs come from overseas sources. 'The rest of the world is farther behind in Y2K compliance than we are,' he said.

While big U.S. pharmaceutical companies may be Y2K ready, smaller third-party suppliers may not. He is also concerned about the level of preparation by the Healthcare Finance Administration (HFCA), which processes 1 billion claims per year.

'The issue is not will there be a catastrophe but will there be enough problems to cause disruption and delay in people getting their prescription drugs?' said Webster. However, he thinks the prescription problem can be more readily handled than other Y2K problems. 'If people start preparing now, they can get a handle on this before Y2K and have enough medication on hand to get through any shortages there may be,' he said.

Webster advises:

1. See your doctor. 'Your doctor may be willing to double the prescription for a month.' It depends, of course, on the shelf life of a prescription, but people may be able to cycle the medication in so they are using the oldest date. At the end of the year, they will have a month's worth of fresh medication to get them through any potential problems in January.

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