Every day, behind their counters, pharmacists juggle an impressive array of information and drugs. This includes some 10,000 medications, 4,000 vitamins and natural products, 11,000 potential side effects and 6,000 contraindications.
From the time you hand in your prescription to the moment you receive your medication, pharmacists carry out a series of verifications to ensure that the prescribed drug is right for you, especially if you are taking it for the first time. Here are the main items on a pharmacist’s checklist.
A prescription in due form
The pharmacist checks whether the prescription is complete and makes sure that it was written by an authorized professional. Physicians, as well as other health professionals, such as dentists and optometrists, have the authority to prescribe drugs. Pharmacists must ensure that prescriptions comply with standard practices that exist in each profession.
The right drug for the right patient
For a drug to be effective, it must be taken in the appropriate dose. If the dose is too low, the drug’s therapeutic effect will not be optimal. If, on the other hand, the dose is too high, the medicine could be dangerous.
The pharmacist verifies whether the dose indicated by the physician is suited to the patient’s health issue and weight. It is easy to understand why, in the case of an infant, for example, the dose must be calculated with pinpoint accuracy, since even the slightest error could have a significant impact on a young patient’s health.
Medical history and previous drug reactions
By inquiring about previous reactions you may have had to a medication or to another drug in the same category, your pharmacist is making sure that the medicine is suitable for you.
If a drug led to problems in the past, whether to intolerance, an allergy, side effects or an adverse reaction, the pharmacist will be able to work with your physician on finding a replacement product. In addition, if a patient reacts poorly to penicillin, for instance, a pharmacist will be familiar with other similar drugs that can cause the same type of reactions.
As can be seen, pharmacists conduct a thorough verification of your medical and drug history when filling your prescriptions. That is why it is important to obtain your medications from a single pharmacy, as often as possible.
When assessing a new prescription, pharmacists always keep in mind the illnesses you have or may have. That’s because there are many drug-disease combinations that can be harmful to a person’s health. Pharmacists are familiar with the contraindications associated with various diseases. (If a person is diabetic, for example, the pharmacist will make sure a newly prescribed drug does not contain sugar). Pharmacists carefully analyze your drug history to ensure that your prescriptions are well suited to your health and situation.
Pharmacists make sure a drug being prescribed to you for the first time will not cause unwanted interactions with other medications you are taking. In some cases, one drug can cancel out the beneficial effects of another, while yet another can increase its potency.
Over-the-counter drugs and natural products
As is the case with prescription medications, over-the-counter drugs (OTCs) and natural products can lead to side effects or unwanted reactions, interact with other drugs and even be contraindicated in certain cases depending on a person’s health issues. Always tell your pharmacist which OTCs and natural products you are taking, so that he can have a clear overview of your medication intake.
In addition to the services related to the delivery of medications, pharmacists offer a wide variety of in-store services. Learn more about these services and use them whenever you need to!
Our FAQ to your pharmacist lists the most popular questions people ask their pharmacist. See the answers provided by our medication experts.
You can also peruse our Prescription Medication Library for more information on a wide variety of drugs.