Know Your Medicine, Know Your Pharmacist

October 18, 2006

Contact: Lauren Cruse (505) 272-3690


Albuquerque, N.M.-Consumers with questions about their medications don’t have to worry about where to get information. Pharmacists are their best and most accessible medication experts.

A dialogue between the patient and their pharmacist about any prescription and nonprescription medicines being taken will ensure that maximum health benefits are received and harmful side effects avoided.

Pharmacists can provide consumers with answers to questions that might arise from the myriad of online health information. Pharmacists know about interactions with food, medicines, or dietary supplements that can effect how medicines work. Some interactions can be dangerous. When picking up a new medicine, ask if it will work safely with other prescription and nonprescription medicines you may be taking. Tell your pharmacist about any herbal products that you may be using, as well.

Following the pharmacist’s advice can also save money for consumers and help lower the nation’s health care bill by ensuring proper medication use. Not following a medicine’s instructions or discontinuing its use without consulting with your health care provider can lead to more expensive treatment, such as surgery or hospitalization.

As dean of the University of New Mexico College of Pharmacy (UNM COP), Dr. John A. Pieper knows the importance of teaching pharmacy students how to conduct open communication with patients.

"When the patient keeps the pharmacist up-to-date on all prescription and nonprescription medications being taken and asks important questions, the pharmacist can monitor the patient’s treatment and help guarantee a healthy result," said Dr. Pieper.

"With the array of complex and effective medications now available, it’s more important than ever that Americans know their pharmacist is there to help them improve their medication use," said Bruce Cannaday, Pharm.D, a pharmacist and President of the American Pharmacists Association. "Patients can help manage their own care by reading the label, knowing the active ingredient in their medications, and if they have questions, asking their pharmacist. Their pharmacist also can help them understand how to best store medications in the home and what medications they as a consumer should have on hand. Their pharmacist will be glad to advise on restrictions on use after a medication reaches its expiration date, as well as to make recommendations on proper disposal of expired medications."

"The pharmacist is no longer simply a dispenser of drugs, and the pharmacy itself has become a health care center," said Lisa Tonrey, a pharmacist from New Mexico and past President of the American Pharmacists Association (APhA). "Pharmacists are actively changing their practices to meet the challenges of the health care system and their patient needs and demands."

APhA says that consumers should expect a higher level of service from today’s pharmacists. Consumers should look to their pharmacists to provide medication-counseling services, including drug regimen reviews and drug interaction checks, coordination of patient care with physicians and other health care providers, and monitoring of side effects. Some pharmacists can also perform limited patient testing, such as cholesterol screening, glucose monitoring and blood pressure checks.

Contact: Lauren Cruse, 272-3322

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