An estimated 4.5 billion prescriptions will be filled this year in the United States, with about half of consumers taking at least one prescription medication over the past 30 days.
“You’d think we would be better at communicating with our pharmacists – just as we do with our other health care providers, like doctors, nurses, and dentists,” says Susan Peppers, R.Ph., vice president of Pharmacy Practice at Express Scripts Pharmacy. “Unfortunately, it’s just not the case.”
In fact, a JD Power study shows that only 10% of people talk to a pharmacist when ordering or receiving their medications. Pharmacists at Express Scripts Pharmacy were asked what are the top six questions patients should be asking their pharmacists, but don’t. Their answers offer insights into why we should take the time to ask these questions and why pharmacists play an important role in our health care.
• Could this medication interact with my vitamins and supplements? Non-prescription medications and supplements can interfere with your prescription or cause unnecessary side effects. Talk to a pharmacist about all the medications you take, especially when you are prescribed any new medication.
• I’m taking multiple meds. What do I need to know? If you are on multiple medications for one or more chronic conditions you should speak with a pharmacist any time there is a change to your medication regimen to check for potential drug-drug interactions, medication overlap or gaps in care.
• What should I do if I forget to take my medication? Always consult with your prescriber on what to do if this happens. Having access to your pharmacist 24/7 is particularly important when you forget to take a dosage at the scheduled time. He or she can help you get back on track so that you get the full benefits of your medication. Having access to your pharmacist from the privacy of your home is another great reason to look for this 24/7 convenience.
• Could this prescription make me unsteady on my feet? Some medications can make you dizzy or drowsy, and there are other hazards in the home that can cause a fall, especially as one ages and needs to get up frequently during the night. A pharmacist can provide home safety tips to avoid an accident.
• I sometimes forget to take my meds. What’s a reminder that works? Taking medications regularly can help avoid complications. When having trouble remembering to take your medications, turn to pharmacists, who can suggest tech solutions that will work for you, such as reminder apps. They can also help you manage side effects you may be having and identify alternatives that you can discuss with your prescriber, when needed.
• Is there a more affordable option for my prescription? If you are having trouble affording your medication, your pharmacists can help with more affordable options and recommendations, such as generics or less expensive formulary options.
For more tips and resources, visit www.esrx.com/AskYourPharmacist.
“When it comes to whole-person care, pharmacists play a major role in the equation,” says Peppers. “Communicating with your pharmacist regularly can help reduce the chance of complications related to your medications.