According to the FDA, nearly 2 million serious adverse drug reactions (ADR) occur every year in the United States. ADRs are the 4th leading cause of death—ahead of diabetes, AIDS, and pulmonary disease—and most of them are completely preventable.*
Pharmacists undergo years of advanced education and specialized training to learn about all the medications you need and their effects on your body. Pharmacists can be a key player on your health care team if you utilize their knowledge correctly. Use this list of the best questions to ask a pharmacist, and make the most of your next pharmacy visit.
1. Is There a Generic Version Available?
The biggest difference between the brand-name version of your medication and the generic version is the cost. Make sure you are cutting the cost you pay out-of-pocket by requesting a generic version if one is available for your prescription. The generic version will have the same active ingredients, though some fillers ingredients might be different. Ask your pharmacist about any allergies you may have before switching brands. If your pharmacy is a compounding pharmacy, you can also ask about having a custom, hypo-allergenic dosage made for you.
2. Could This Interact Badly With _______?
One out of every 25 seniors is at risk of experiencing a “major drug-drug interaction.” Ask your pharmacist about every medication you are currently taking to ensure your drugs (prescription and over-the-counter), supplements, and vitamins are not going to interact negatively. If you have more than one pharmacy, consider consolidating to one pharmacy location, so your pharmacist has access to your full list of medications and prescription history.
Serious and even deadly interactions have occurred when patients use multiple pharmacies. For optimum safety the pharmacist should have 100% of your prescription information and over-the-counter supplements at hand. The only proper way to ensure that all interactions are reviewed is to house the patient history in one data base.
Your vitamins, supplements, and diet can also have a major impact on how your body metabolizes and processes your medications. Ask your pharmacist for food, drink, and supplement recommendations. Specifically, tell your pharmacist about the vitamins and supplements you are currently taking to ensure they will not conflict with any additional medications you have been prescribed.
3. Are There Special Instructions For This Medication?
This is one of the most helpful questions to ask a pharmacist. Some medications have special instructions for your day-to-day life. Some medications make it unsafe to operate heavy machinery or drive a car; others require you to stay out of direct sunlight or drink extra water. Ask your pharmacist if there are any special instructions or helpful advice to maximize the effectiveness of your prescriptions.
4. When Should I Take It?
It is important to know when you should take your medication and what you can do if you miss a dose. Some medications have to be taken on an empty stomach to work effectively while others have to be taken during a meal. Some medications should be taken for a prescribed time, some are only taken until symptoms cease, and others are taken until the entire prescription is gone.
Always ask your pharmacist about instructions for missed doses. Certain prescriptions are dangerous in high concentrations and cannot be “caught up” on with an extra dose.
5. How Should I Store It?
Ask your pharmacist about the proper way to store your drugs. Some drugs require a dry, room temperature space while others need to be refrigerated. Avoid taking spoiled or chemically altered medication by following specific storage instructions. Never take medication that has visibly changed color or consistency.
6. What Side Effects Should I Be Watching For?
The side effects caused by medications can range from mild to severe depending on your dosage and your body’s unique chemistry. Ask your pharmacist which side effects are most common with your prescription and which ones should alarm you if they occur. If you feel tingling, numbness, chest pains, or break out in hives after taking any medication, seek medical help immediately. You could be suffering from an allergic reaction.
If you have health questions you need to ask a pharmacist in Arkansas, contact Smith Caldwell Drug Store at 501-392-5470 to speak with one of the experienced professionals we have on staff.