Patient Corner: Questions to Ask Your Pharmacist When You’re Prescribed a New Drug

prescription drug questions

As a patient, you put a lot of time and effort into being a “smart” healthcare consumer. You research the right doctors and specialists to see, check out hospital and clinic ratings online, and may even explore what preventive care tests and/or exams are covered by your insurance.

But don’t stop there! If your doctor prescribes a new medication, be sure to take advantage of the pharmacist consultation when you’re at the drugstore. Pharmacists have the most knowledge of anyone in the healthcare system about drug efficacy, potential adverse drug interactions and possible side effects. Be smart: take advantage of their experience and expertise!

Here are some questions you should ask your pharmacist when taking a new medication:

  • What is the medication called? Medications usually have two names: a brand name and a generic name. It's important to know both names so that you can accurately communicate with your doctor(s) and pharmacist about your medication.
  • What does the medication do? Your pharmacist can explain the purpose of the medication and how it works in your body. This information can help you understand why you're taking the new drug, and what to expect.
  • How much should I take and how often? It's important to follow your doctor's instructions carefully when taking medication. Your pharmacist can help you understand how much medication to take and how often to take it. The pharmacist can also tell you if there are any special instructions, such as taking the medication with food or on an empty stomach.
  • What are the side effects of the medication? Every medication has the potential to cause side effects. Your pharmacist can tell you about the most common side effects of the medication you're taking and what to do if you experience them.
  • What if I miss a dose? If you miss a dose of medication, it's important to take it as soon as you remember. However, if it's close to the time for your next dose, just skip the missed dose and take your next dose as usual. Don't double the dose to make up for the missed dose. When in doubt, call your pharmacist.
  • How long should I take the medication? The length of time you need to take medication varies depending on the doctor’s prescription, the medication and the condition it's treating. Your pharmacist can tell you how long you need to take the medication you're taking.
  • Can I take this medication with other medications or supplements? It's important to tell your pharmacist about all the medications and supplements you're taking, including over-the-counter medications and herbal remedies. Some medications can interact with each other, so it's important to make sure that the medications you're taking are safe to take together.
  • How should I store the medication? Some medications need to be stored in the refrigerator, while others need to be stored at room temperature. Your pharmacist can tell you how to store the medication you're taking.

Have a question that’s not listed above? Don't hesitate to ask your pharmacist any other questions you have about your medication. Pharmacists are always happy to help you understand your medication and use it safely and effectively. Some pharmacies also offer pouch packaging, which can make it even easier to take all your prescriptions and supplements at the right time, in the right amount, without hassle or guesswork. Just ask!        



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