10 Questions to Always Ask Your Pharmacist
Most people rely on their doctor for medical guidance, but your pharmacist can also be a great resource. Pharmacists have a thorough knowledge of prescription drugs, over-the-counter medications, and how they work in the human body. The next time you fill a new prescription at your pharmacy, be sure to ask your pharmacist some of these questions.
1. What Side Effects Can I Expect from this Medication?
When you receive a new prescription, there is a lot of information on the label. To be sure you don’t miss anything, ask your pharmacist about side effects that are commonly reported with this medicine. The pharmacist might recommend ways to avoid side effects - for example, taking medicine on an empty stomach or taking it with food.
Also be aware of any effects that may hinder your normal daily activities. For example, some prescription medications make you drowsy, and it’s unsafe to drive while taking them.
2. What Interacts with This Drug?
There are many different substances that could interact with a prescription medication, including:
- Other prescription medications
- Some over-the-counter medications
- Alcohol, caffeine, and other recreational drugs
- Herbal supplements, including vitamins
- Certain food or drink
It’s important to know what interacts with your new prescription so you can avoid these substances. Although the prescription label will identify potential interactions, your pharmacist can explain and simplify the information.
3. Is This Medication Safe for Pregnant or Breastfeeding Mothers?
If you are pregnant or breastfeeding, you need to be cautious about what medications you take. If you’re not already pregnant but plan to be in the near future, it’s important to plan ahead with your medications and know which ones are safe.
4. What Is the Actual Name of This Medication?
You’re probably familiar with generic versus brand name medication. Most drugs have several different brand names, but they also have a generic drug name. For example, acetaminophen is the generic name of an over-the-counter pain medication, but it’s commonly known by the brand name Tylenol.
When you get a new prescription, ask your pharmacist for both the brand and generic name of the drug so that you know exactly what drug you’re taking. This makes it easier for you to spot interactions.
5. What Is This Medication Supposed to Do?
Your doctor probably explained how your Rx works, but it’s also helpful to hear a pharmacist’s perspective. Be sure to tell your pharmacist about all medications you’re taking, especially if you’re seeing multiple doctors and have different prescriptions from each. A pharmacist may catch two different medications that have similar purposes and suggest that you eliminate one of them. However, always talk to your doctor before making that decision. Never stop taking a prescription on your own.
6. How Should I Take This Rx?
It’s important to understand how to take your medication. You need to know how often to take it, what time of day to take it, and whether it should be taken with food or on an empty stomach. A pharmacist can give you all of this information.
Additionally, a pharmacist can help you if you find it hard to take a prescription. For example, you may realize once you fill the prescription that the pills are large and difficult to swallow. A pharmacist might suggest pill splitting to make it easier to take. Or, your pharmacist could modify the prescription in other ways to fit your needs (this is known as pharmaceutical compounding).
7. What Should I Do If I Miss a Dose of This Medication?
Mistakes happen and you may accidentally miss a dose. If this does happen, you’ll have a lot of questions, such as “Will there be serious side effects?” and “Should I try to make up the missed dose later in the day, or just wait until the next day and take the usual dose?”
Never try to answer these questions yourself. Always consult a medical professional. If you ask your pharmacist ahead of time, you can remain calm and know exactly what to do.
8. How Do I Properly Store This Medication?
Proper medication storage is essential. Drugs may lose potency or become unusable if exposed to extreme heat, cold, moisture, and other conditions. Some prescriptions, like insulin, need to be refrigerated.
Also ask your pharmacist about the risks associated with accidental ingestion. Some medications, such as fentanyl patches, are considered particularly dangerous to children and pets, and extra care should be taken when storing them.
9. How Long Should I Take This Rx?
Some drugs are designed to be short-term treatments for a temporary illness, while others must be taken long-term to manage a chronic condition. Never assume it’s ok to stop taking a medication because you’re feeling better. Some treatments will only work if you take them for the entire length of time they’re prescribed.
10. Are There Any Discounts on This Prescription?
Many people don’t realize that you can compare prices and find discounts on prescriptions, just like any other good you purchase. Prices can vary widely between pharmacies. There are also various discounts available, from manufacturer coupons and prescription coupons to prescription discount cards. You may even find out that the out-of-pocket cost of your drug is cheaper than the insurance co-pay. Ask your pharmacist if there are any discounts available on this Rx.
If you’re looking to save on your medications, download the America’s Pharmacy prescription discount card today. The card is accepted at over 62,000 pharmacies across the United States, and can save you up to 80% on your Rx!