Picking up a prescription shouldn’t feel like grabbing a gallon of milk or picking up your dry cleaning. Your pharmacist is a medical expert who can help you understand your medications and how to get the best benefits from them.
Start the conversation with these five questions:
1. Is there a generic version of the prescribed medication?
Generics are less expensive than brand-name drugs. Generic medications act the same way in the body as brand-name medications because they have the same active ingredients. It’s not too late to ask if you can fill your prescription with a generic.
2. How and when should I take this medication?
In order to get the best results, take certain medications at a specific time of day. You should take some with food and others on an empty stomach. You may need to be split or crush some tablets, which is something your pharmacy may be able to do for you.
3. What should I expect from this medication?
It’s important to know the most common and severe side effects. Medications may impact what foods you can eat or whether you should drive. Always tell your pharmacist if you are pregnant or nursing, as some medications could harm your baby.
4. How should I store this medication?
Most prescriptions should be stored at room temperature in a cool, dry place away from moisture and out of direct sunlight. The bathroom medicine cabinet may not be the best place because of humidity in the room. Some prescriptions may require refrigeration.
5. Is my medication safe to take with my other medications?
Your pharmacist already checks for interactions with all medications you receive from their pharmacy. However, it never hurts to double-check. Let the pharmacist know if you are taking medications from another pharmacy (including mail-order) and if you are currently using any over-the-counter vitamins and/or dietary supplements. That way, your pharmacist can identify all potential interactions with your new medication.
Don’t hesitate to talk with your pharmacist about your medications or other health-related issues. Helping patients is one of the most gratifying aspects of a pharmacist’s job.