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Archive for May, 2015

More than Just Counting Pills

May 20, 2015 By: Chelsea Liebowitz Category: HealthCare, Medicine Advice, Medtipster, Prescription News, Prescription Savings Source: Chelsea Liebowitz, Intern, Pharm.D., Medtipster Mentorship Program – 5.20.15

As I walk up to the pharmacy counter at my local CVS to pick up my prescriptions, I notice a sign titled “Consultation,” and until recently, I did not know what the sign was for. I’d drop off my written prescription to the pharmacist under the “drop-off” sign and then pick it up at the “pick-up” sign; it was pretty simply really. I would briefly be asked if I had any questions for the pharmacist, asked to sign for my prescriptions, and given my prescriptions and sent on my merry way. I’ve been doing it for years and never thought to question it.

So what goes on under that “pharmacy consultation” sign?

A pharmacist is the only healthcare provider that is available to you at any given time. Twenty four hour pharmacies exist to allow accessibility at any time of day. They are also one of the most trusted professionals in the United States, ranking in the top 3 in terms of their honesty and ethical standards for the past 11 years.2

Pharmacists have at least 6 years of education starting with classes to understand the body and how a drug might affect a certain system, and ending with classes that include therapeutic applications of different drugs. They are trained to recognize and assess risk factors for disease, interpret data and recognize interactions of drugs and disease states. A pharmacist will also be aware of all of the side effects of the medications and any interactions the medication may have with food and/or other medications.

But what specifically can I ask my pharmacist?1 

  • OTC drugs
    • Currently there are so many non-prescription drugs out. There are also many different brands or types with the same active ingredient! Should you take Excedrin or Excedrin migraine? Which cough syrup will best treat my symptoms? Does brand really matter? Ask your pharmacist!
      • Common OTC topics: acne, allergies, cough and colds, lice infestation, contact lenses, GI distress (constipation, diarrhea, nausea), ear drops, eye drops, heartburn, and oral health.
  • New drug information
    • You just received a new prescription…did your doctor explain what to expect? Do you know the potential side effects, when to contact your doctor if it isn’t working? Can you breast feed with this medication? Are there any special instructions like avoid grapefruit juice or careful in the sun? Ask your pharmacist!
      • Common topics for new medications: Side effects, what to expect in terms of benefit, what the drug is used for, how to store it, how to apply/take the medication.
      • Make sure you understand HOW and WHY you are taking your medication!
  • Differentiate between different medications
    • Some patients have multiple medications. This also goes with the point above. Sometimes you may get a new prescription that then causes your daily medication regimen to become chaotic, confusing, and overwhelming.
    • Do you know which disease each drug is for? Are you confused by the names? Do you know when to take each pill to get the maximum benefit? Do you think you take too many medications and want to consolidate? Ask your pharmacist!
  • Discuss pricing
    • Some pharmacies have cheaper generics. You can ask your pharmacist about switching to generic medications to prevent high costs!
      • You can also check out to find prescription drugs available on discount generic programs. Many drugs cost as little as $4!
  • Vaccinations
    • Need a flu shot? Need more vaccinations, such as shingles vaccine or a meningitis vaccine before you go off to college? Ask your pharmacist! An immunization certified pharmacist can administer the vaccine in the pharmacy.
  • Help manage chronic conditions, such as diabetes and hypertension
    • Using a glucometer and testing your sugar and blood pressure can be scary! Ask your pharmacist to help educate yourself on both your condition and how to best manage it. They will teach you how to use the glucometer and let you know the best times to test your blood sugar. Or they can teach you how to measure your own blood pressure, setting up a schedule to make sure you consistently monitor your own blood pressure.
  • New moms
    • Can you breast feed with your current medications? Are you taking enough vitamins? Which diaper rash cream is the best for my child? Are any wipes better than the others? Ask your pharmacist!
  • If you have any changes in your health/body and you just started taking a new prescription medication, ask your pharmacist! He/she may be able to let you know if it is normal and whether or not you should contact your doctor or not.

Next time you pick up a prescription, make sure you know exactly what to expect with the medication. Be an informed patient! The pharmacist is there to help you, use the resource! They spent many years in school learning about the medications. They have knowledge that they would love to share with you, especially if it helps you and improves your health!







1Ask A Pharmacist. (2014). Frequently Asked Questions. Retrieved from

2Simone, A. (December 18, 2013). Pharmacists Among Most Widely Trusted Professionals, Gallup Poll Finds. Pharmacy Times. Retrieved from

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