5 Common Questions Patients Ask PharmacistsPosted by Medicare Made Clear
By Albertsons / Safeway, proud supporter of National Medicare Education Week
Learning about your medicine helps you take charge of your health. Pharmacists are an often overlooked resource. Here are answers to five common questions that patients ask pharmacists.
1. How long do I have to take this medicine?
It depends on the reason you are taking the medicine. For example, when you have an infection, you need to take your antibiotic for as long as your doctor prescribed – even if you feel better sooner. Yet there are other medicines that you only take until symptoms go away. Some medicines, like those for diabetes, are meant to be taken the rest of your life to keep you feeling well and to prevent long-term complications.
2. What should I do if I forget to take my medicine?
With some medicine you need to take it as soon as you remember, but with others it may be recommended to skip the missed dose and wait until your next scheduled dose. Ask your pharmacist about this when you pick up your prescription, or call the pharmacist for advice if you realize you missed a dose. If you find you miss doses often, ask for help. There are many solutions such as pill boxes, calendars, alarms, and specially prepared dosing packs that can help you stay on track.
3. Is this medicine safe to take with my other medicines?
Your pharmacist will check that any new medicine you get is safe to take with other medicines filled at that pharmacy. If you get medicine from other pharmacies or through mail order, remember to tell your pharmacist the names of those medicines, too. Also, tell your pharmacist about any over-the-counter (OTC) medicines, vitamins, minerals, or herbal products you take. This way the pharmacist can check to be sure all your medicines are safe to take together.
4. Why do my pills look different this month?
Often more than one manufacturer makes the same medicine, so the pills may look different even though the medicine is the same. Sometimes even the same manufacturer may change the look of the pills. If you notice your pills look different, talk to your pharmacist to find out why and to be sure you have the right medicine.
5. What can I do if my medicine costs too much?
Generics may save you money, but sometimes a medicine doesn’t have a generic version. In this case, ask your doctor or pharmacist if there’s a similar medicine that has a generic version. Another option for some medicines is to call your insurance company and ask if you can save money by changing to a 90-day supply, using mail order, or using preferred pharmacies.
What other questions do you have? Remember, it is your pharmacist’s job to advise you, so don’t be shy! If you don’t ask questions, you might be missing important information that you need to know for your health and wellness.
For more information, explore MedicareMadeClear.com or contact the Medicare helpline 24 hours a day, seven days a week at 1-800-MEDICARE (1-800-633-4227), TTY 1-877-486-2048.
This article was written by Rebecca Strauss, PharmD. She is Residency Program Director at Albertsons / Safeway.
National Medicare Education Week is part of UnitedHealthcare’s Medicare Made Clear initiative.