5 Things You Should Be Discussing With Your Pharmacist

Posted by Meaghan Byrne, PharmD & Frank Pallaria, RPh on Oct 4, 2017 8:00:00 AM

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Are you asking your pharmacist the right questions? With more than half of Americans taking at least one prescription medication, it’s important to stay informed about medication side effects, drug-on-drug interactions and ways to improve medication adherence.

As we celebrate American Pharmacists Month, there is no better time than now to get acquainted with your pharmacist and pharmacy staff to ensure you’re on the path to better health. We’ve asked our staff Pharmacists, Meaghan Byrne, PharmD and Frank Pallaria, RPh, to share their insight into important topics that patients should be discussing with their pharmacists.

While we service more than 18,000 patients a month, our pharmacists have the time and availability to answer any of your questions – no matter how long it takes. Aren’t sure what you should be asking? We’ve made it easy for you. Below are 5 general questions or topics that our pharmacists encounter daily from patients like you.

1. The difference between brand and generic medications.

This is a great question and one that we hear from patients often! Brand name medications are the patented name of a drug – usually catchy, marketable and generally much easier to pronounce than the actual drug name.

The drug company has approximately 20 years of sole ownership of the brand name and drug from the time they file the patent. After the patent expires, other drug companies can begin making the drug, which then lowers the price.

By law, any company making the drug has to have the exact same active ingredient in the medication. They may use different inactive ingredients, such as colors or flavorings, but the active ingredient must be the same. While you may be able to see the difference of a brand versus generic medication, your body cannot.

Fun fact: Many generic drugs are actually made by the same company that makes the brand name.

2. What other medications or supplements you are taking.

It’s extremely important to discuss any and all prescription medications, over-the-counter medications or supplements you are taking with your pharmacist. This enables pharmacist to catch any potential interactions before filling your new medication.

Before filling any prescription, an IWP pharmacist will review your patient profile to ensure there are no drug interactions or allergies. Our pharmacists are medication experts and they work tirelessly to balance our patient’s medication needs to ensure the right medication goes to the right patient for the right injury.

3. What side effects you might see.

Each drug has a long, sometimes scary list of potential side effects. It is important to be aware of these side effects and know the risk versus benefit of beginning a medication regime.

Side effects are individual and can vary by race, gender or age. Don’t hesitate to ask your trusted pharmacist if you’re experiencing adverse reactions, no matter how minor.

4. Things you should do and avoid while taking your medication.

Medications usually come with specific instructions on when and how to take them. For instance, while some medications are okay to consume alcohol with, there are many that can be dangerous when the two are combined. Even if you have an occasional glass of wine with dinner, it’s important to address this with your pharmacist before starting the medication.

Another topic to discuss is whether you could take your medication with food or on an empty stomach. This is important since some medications can upset the stomach, causing nausea or vomiting, if not taken properly. Food can change how the body absorbs some medications, so be sure to consult your pharmacist for their recommendation before you decide when to take your medication.

5. What you should expect from this medication. 

While your doctor writes the prescription, they may not always explain how the medication will work or what to expect out of it. Pharmacists have become one of the most accessible members of the health care team, allowing them to speak with patients at a moment’s notice regarding their medication questions or concerns.

Don’t be afraid to ask your pharmacist what you should expect from a medication, including things like how long the medication will take to become effective or what will happen if you miss a dosage.

Pharmacists have a unique way of creating conversation that helps patients feel more comfortable in their treatment plan. Nobody likes to repeat their story, so having a dedicated pharmacist as part of your treatment team allows you to further your conversation and build better relationships during your recovery.

IWP pharmacists, like Meaghan and Frank, have the availability and expertise to offer medication counseling to each and every patient, no matter what the circumstance. While you might feel uncomfortable explaining your medication concerns or asking personal questions at a retail pharmacy with a long line of other customers, our home delivery difference promises truly confidential access to a team of experienced, caring pharmacists.  

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Topics: Clinical