“I only do hypoallergenic medicines!”

A couple of times a year, I’ll go to prescribe a medication and the patient will remind me: “Don’t give me anything with Red Dye Number 6.” That’s when I try to find a reason to not prescribe anything.

Sometimes, however, you’re stuck. You write the prescription. No one has any idea what dye is in the medication, if any. The patient goes to the pharmacy and tells the pharmacist: “It better not have Red Dye Number 6! Does it have Red Dye Number 6?”

The pharmacy tech: “I dunno. Ask your doctor.”

Our phone rings. Our response: “We have no idea. Ask your pharmacist. They have the printed insert. They can look it up.”Now things are getting testy. The pharmacy is crowded. The pharmacist is super busy.

The whole nonsense is the particular dye in question is in eighteen different foods, drinks and candies the patient ate today without ill effect.

Logic will not work here, however, and ultimately what happens is the drug is substituted for a drug the patient used in the past without horrible problems.

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Steven Mussey MD

Steven Mussey, M.D. is a physician in Internal Medicine, practicing in the Fredericksburg area for more than twenty years. He grew up in Springfield, Virginia and earned a degree in Physics from The University of Virginia, Phi Beta Kappa. He earned his medical degree at The George Washington University and was inducted into the medical honor society AOA. He is Board Certified in Internal Medicine. He served in the Air Force for four years before entering into private practice. He particularly enjoys geriatric medical care and working with complex patients. For almost a quarter century, he has been practicing with one other Internist. Both doctors enjoy practice in a small, but busy office, and plan on working into their 70s, as long as they can still find their way to the office. Dr. Mussey is also an avid cartoonist and has a weekly cartoon in the local newspaper. He also enjoys cartoon animation and has had several public service cartoons playing regularly on the television cable systems. 

  3 comments for ““I only do hypoallergenic medicines!”

  1. Dave
    November 29, 2019 at 9:55 am

    It’s like trying to convince someone that it is physiologically impossible to be allergic to cortisone or epinephrine…..

    • Sir Lance-a-lot
      November 29, 2019 at 10:33 am

      Ha Ha. Not even worth the trouble.

      That’s why, whenever I prescribe something for a patient who’s had something similar before (which is most times) I always ask, “Is there anything you’ve taken for this before that has either worked well, not worked, or caused problems?”

      If they say, “I’m allergic to all antibiotics that begin with ‘A'” or “penicillin makes me sneeze” or “I always need a double Z-Pak,” I just avoid whatever and move along. It saves a lot of phone calls later.

    • Rob
      December 1, 2019 at 7:22 pm

      I have an exceptionally disastrous patient who is “allergic to ALL antibiotics.” My reply when they come in for their URI symptoms is to say, “here’s your tessalon prescription.”

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