Your pharmacist is there to advise you on both over-the-counter and prescription drugs and give you instructions on how to best take your medicine. An experienced health-care professional, your pharmacist has studied for four or more years at university and undergone several training programs in a variety of workplaces before earning the right to practice. Since your pharmacist's main objective is to ensure you get the best possible results from your medication, he or she keeps abreast of new drugs and therapies through continuing education.
Your pharmacist's responsibilities
When you hand in a prescription at the drugstore, your pharmacist first evaluates the product and dosage relevance. Then, after verifying that the medication is appropriate for you and making sure there are no interactions with your other medication(s), your pharmacist prepares the product and records it in your file. Finally, as your pharmacist hands you the product, he or she gives you all the information you need to reap as much benefit as possible from your therapy.
Keep your pharmacist and your physician informed of all medication you are taking, including over-the-counter products. That way they will be able to keep your files up to date and you will receive the best care possible. Always inform them of any adverse drug reactions. To help your pharmacist keep track of your drug profile, use the same pharmacy. If you have to get medication from another pharmacy, inform your pharmacist so he or she can update your drug profile.
If some of your pharmacist's recommendations are not clear, ask all the questions that come to mind. If you think of other things you would like cleared up while at home, write them down so you will be able to ask them the next time you visit the pharmacy. If you need an answer right away, do not hesitate to call the pharmacy. Remember: Your pharmacist is there to help you.
Before taking any new drug, make sure that you know exactly what it is. Knowing your medication means being able to answer the following questions:
What is the medication called? - What does it do?
- Why am I taking this medication; what is the goal of therapy?
- Will it cure the illness or relieve symptoms?
- How long will it take before its effect becomes apparent?
How should I take the medication?
- How many should I take, and how many times a day?
- Should I shake it before use? (i.e., is it a suspension?)
- When is the best time to take it?
- Can I take it with food or milk?
- Can I drink alcohol while I am taking it?
- How long should I take it?
- Do I need to renew my prescription?
- How will I know when I do not need it anymore?
Does the medication have side effects?
- Will it impair my ability to drive?
- Will it cause drowsiness or stimulate?
- Will it cause diarrhea or constipation?
- Will it irritate my stomach?
- Can its side effects be prevented?
- What should I do if side effects occur?
- Can I take other drugs (e.g., Tylenol) at the same time?
How should I store the medication?
- Should it be kept refrigerated?
- How long will it keep? When should I throw it away?
- How should I discard unused medication?
Pharmacists know more about drugs than any other health professionals. They can answer all your questions about drugs, and more!