How To Get The Most From Your Pharmacist

Pharmacist with patientBy working together with your pharmacist, you can be sure that your medications are taken safely, effectively and appropriately to maintain your good health. Pharmacists want you to know that they are always available to advise you about your medications.

Taking your medication correctly is one of the best ways to decrease your health care costs.
Each year, thousands of people end up in the hospital, fail to get better and waste money because they did not take their medication properly.

Medicine adherence means taking your medicines as directed—the right dose, the right number of doses per day, at the right times of day, and with or without food, drink, or other medicines.

Adherence matters. For instance, not taking prescribed blood pressure medicine as directed can raise your risk of cardiovascular-related death. However, only half of Americans treated for high blood pressure take their medicine as directed. Watch this video on blood pressure medicine adherence to learn more.

It can be hard to keep track of your medicines, but taking them correctly is essential to good treatment. Your pharmacist can touch base with you regularly, ask how you’re managing, and give you encouragement.

Here are some questions to ask your pharmacist:

  • What is this medicine supposed to do?
  • How and when should I take it?
  • What are possible side effects? What should I do if I get them?
  • Should I avoid certain activities, like driving or running?
  • Should I avoid certain foods while taking the medicine, such as milk products or grapefruit?
  • If I’m having problems with this medicine, when should I call my doctor?
  • Can you give me a list of my prescribed medicines?

Pharmacists are the medication experts. 
You might not realize it, but pharmacists do much more than count tablets and pour liquids. For each prescription dispensed, your pharmacist must check to see that:

  • the information provided by the prescriber is complete
  • the new medication will not interact with other medications you are taking
  • the medication and dosage are appropriate for your health condition
  • you understand the proper way to store and take the medication.

Your pharmacist can help you manage your health care
Ultimately, you have the responsibility for managing your health care, but your pharmacist can help if you keep him or her up-to-date about your health and the medications you are taking.

For this reason, it is important to use the same pharmacy for all of your prescription services, especially when seeing multiple health care providers. This ensures that your pharmacist has access to your complete medication history when checking for problems or possible interactions.

Talk with your pharmacist about over-the-counter medications
You should also check with your pharmacist before taking any nonprescription medication.

Even though they do not require a physician's prescription, nonprescription medicines are powerful and can, if taken improperly, adversely interact with your prescription medications or badly affect another health condition. Make sure your pharmacist is aware of any allergies to medications so adverse reactions can be prevented.

Source: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and  American Pharmacists Association