CVS adds OTC drug interaction checker to mobile app

By Neil Versel
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CVS Pharmacy AppRetail pharmacy heavyweight CVS Caremark has added a drug interaction checker to its CVS Mobile app that cautions consumers when an over-the-counter medication might interact with other drugs they are taking. The Woonsocket, RI-based company says it is the first drugstore chain to include such a feature in a mobile app.

With the new interaction checker, users can scan the barcodes on OTC medication packages with their phones or enter the name of the drug or an active ingredient to bring up a list of potential interactions. For those with a myCVS online account, the app automatically checks the OTC drug against the patient's pharmacy history, which can be imported directly from CVS or manually populated to include other OTC medications and prescriptions filled through other pharmacies.

"This added level of guidance empowers users to make informed decisions," CVS Chief Digital Officer Brian Tilzer told MobiHealthNews in an e-mail. "It's important to point out that while this informational tool offers guidance, it's not a replacement for counsel from a doctor or pharmacist."

Like major competitors Walgreens and Rite Aid, CVS through its mobile app lets customers order refills by scanning the barcode of current prescriptions, though Walgreens was first in that regard. The CVS app also features a pill identifier to help people remember the names of their medications, as well as the ability to schedule immunization appointments at CVS pharmacies and locate stores with walk-in Minute Clinic operations.

"The combination of all of these innovative features makes it easier for our customers to take care of themselves and get access to important resources, right at their fingertips, no matter where they are," Tilzer adds.

CVS Mobile is available for Apple iOS and Android. A separate CVS app for the iPad app features a "virtual pharmacy" that the company sees as somewhat experimental. "It's not a normal app, it's not a list of products. What we have is a digital rendering of a store. It's not that we know this is the best way to interact with customers. We want to find out," Tilzer explained at Mad*Pow's Healthcare Experience Design Conference in March.

CVS Caremark has an additional app for members of pharmacy benefits manager Caremark.