By Sainul A. Parakkal, Rita J. Jabbour and Zakariya H. Dobayan

Pharmacists worldwide play an essential role in the health of the individuals in the communities they serve. Their specialization is the medications prescribed by your physician. Collecting your medication from the pharmacist is not just a medication transaction but an opportunity to enhance your understanding of the medication and better care for your health. Taking an active role in this process leads to better management of your medications and the best possible health outcomes. This article provides some tips to help you get the most from your pharmacy visit.

Read & understand your prescription

Before visiting the pharmacy, take the time to read and understand the prescription provided by your doctor. Familiarize yourself with the name of the medication, dosage instructions, and other details. Doing so enables you to ask questions that can impact your health.

Communication is key

Pharmacists are knowledgeable professionals who can provide valuable insight and answer your questions regarding the medications you have been prescribed. When you talk to the pharmacist, have an open, honest, and transparent conversation. Share relevant information about your medical history, allergies, or other medications you are currently taking. This information helps the pharmacist ensure the prescribed medicine is safe and appropriate for you. Do not hesitate to ask questions about your medication; thoroughly understanding your prescription empowers you to take it correctly and manage any potential concerns effectively.

Labeling & packaging

Before opening your prescription packaging, the first thing to do is read the labeling and any accompanying information. Trustworthy medications should have a clear, readable label that includes the name of the drug, dosage strength, active ingredients, expiration date, storage instructions, and any warnings or precautions specific to the medication. Furthermore, any patient information accompanying your prescription provides valuable information about that medication.

Know the brand and generic name (active ingredient) of your medication

It is essential to be familiar with your medication’s brand and generic name. Medications are commonly known by their brand names, which the manufacturer chooses. The generic term, however, refers to the active ingredient, which is the same regardless of the manufacturer. For example, depending on the manufacturer, a medication containing the active ingredient “atorvastatin” may be marketed under different brand names, such as Lipitor or Lorvast. Awareness of the brand and generic names can help ensure that you take the correct medication. If you are not sure, consult your doctor or pharmacist.

Medication counseling

Take advantage of the medication counseling services offered by pharmacists. In these sessions, the pharmacist provides personalized information regarding your medication, including its purpose, when, how, and what to expect. They can also offer advice on potential lifestyle adjustments, strategies to help you take your medication as prescribed, and ways to store it correctly.

Knowing your medication

Understanding the purpose of your medication is essential. Ask your pharmacist about the intended benefits and goals of your treatment. Knowing the medication targets and the expected outcomes helps you track your progress and communicate effectively with your doctor the next time you visit.

Understand proper dosage & administration

It is crucial to understand your medication’s dosage and administration instructions fully. Your pharmacist can clarify the instructions, including the best time to take your medications and whether to take them with food, and answer all your questions. Knowing how to handle your medication properly maximizes its effectiveness.

Discuss potential drug interactions

If you are taking other medications, whether they are prescribed, over-the-counter, or herbal, it is essential to discuss the possibility of drug interactions with your pharmacist. The pharmacist can assess your medications’ compatibility and identify potential risks. By proactively addressing drug interactions, you minimize the chances of adverse interactions and optimize the safety and effectiveness of your treatment.

Recognize potential side effects

Knowing the possible side effects of the medications you take is essential. Your pharmacist can provide you with the most common ones to watch out for and, if you develop any, when you should seek medical attention. Awareness of your body and possible side effects helps minimize and manage unintended consequences and ensures your safety.

Adherence & compliance

Discuss ways to ensure that you fully and adequately follow your medication schedule. Your pharmacist can provide you with strategies you can follow to maintain a consistent medication routine. The pharmacist can also help you with ways to set reminders and overcome any problems you may face. Sticking to your medication routine throughout the prescription is vital for the best health outcome.

Keep track of refills & expiration dates

Know the number of refills available for your medication and when they expire. This information helps you plan and ensure you have an uninterrupted supply of medication. If your prescription is running low or nearing its expiry date, contact your doctor or pharmacist in advance to arrange for a refill.

Receiving your medication from the pharmacist is an opportunity to participate actively in your healthcare journey. By familiarizing yourself with your prescription, engaging in open communication, asking questions, understanding the purpose and potential side effects of your medication, and prioritizing your medication routine, you optimize the benefits of your treatment.

At JHAH, pharmacists can be reached to answer your question by calling 800 305 4444.

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