Article from Readers Digest
More secrets from behind the drug counter.
1. Don’t put up with the silent treatment. Pharmacists are required by law in most states to counsel patients and answer their questions. If your pharmacist seems too busy to talk with you, take your business someplace else.
2. An over-the-counter version might do the trick. You may just need to take more pills and forgo insurance reimbursement. But always talk to your pharmacist, and do the math. Half the prescriptions taken in the U.S. each year are used improperly, and most patients nationwide don’t ask how to use their medications.
3. Ask about over-the-counter drugs. “People assume that if it’s over-the-counter, it’s safe,” says Daniel Zlott, a pharmacist at the National Institutes of Health. “I’ve seen serious complications.”
4. Go ahead and call me doctor (I’m just not that kind of doctor). Since mid-2004, pharmacy students must pursue a doctorate in pharmacy (Pharm.D) in order to be licensed. Pharmacists licensed before then must have at least a Bachelor of Pharmacy and pass a series of exams. Either way, your pharmacist has spent more time studying drugs than even your doctor has.
5. Open up a little. “The better I know you as a patient—your health history, your family, and how busy your life is—the better I can tailor medications to fit your lifestyle,” says Zlott. “You may not want to take a drug three times a day, for example, and I’ll know that if I know you.”
6. “People take too many drugs, definitely,” says Stuart Feldman. Two out of every three patients who visit a doctor leave with at least one prescription for medication, according to the Institute for Safe Medication Practices. “Drugs are an easy solution,” says Feldman, “but there are other solutions.”
7. Talk to me—and check my work. Half the prescriptions taken in the U.S. each year are used improperly, and 96 percent of patients nationwide don’t ask questions about how to use their medications. When you pick up your prescription, at a minimum, ask, What is this drug? What does it do? Why am I taking it? What are possible side effects? and How should I take it? Not only does this help you to use the drug correctly; it’s also a good way to double-check that you’re getting the right drug.
8. We’ll save you money if we can. “A good part of a pharmacist’s time is spent dealing with patients and their incomes,” says pharmacist Cindy Coffey. Part of that is suggesting generic or OTC alternatives. Or if a doctor has prescribed a newer drug with no generic alternative available, says Zlott, “I might call the doctor to suggest an older drug that’s equally effective.”
9. “Some pharmacies are so volume-driven that the pharmacist can’t look up all day,” says pharmacist Cindy Coffey. There were a record 3.8 billion prescriptions filled in the U.S. in 2007—a 13 percent increase from 2003.