Ask Your Pharmacist These 10 Questions

Pharmacists serve as a bridge between you and your doctor. Also, your pharmacist may be the health professional you speak with most frequently.

Every day, pharmacists help you manage and improve your health. You can get patient-centred answers to questions about medicines and immunizations from your pharmacist, along with your doctor or nurse. Also, they can teach you how to use blood glucose monitors and asthma inhalers, and advise you on emergency preparedness.

Here are some questions you might ask your pharmacist next time you visit.

  1. What should I do to prepare an emergency supply of medicines? 

    Consult your doctor or pharmacist about creating an emergency supply of medicines. A pharmacist can refill a prescription before it’s due under emergency prescription refill laws in some states. States have different laws regarding these matters. Find out what the law is in your area.

  2. In my emergency supplies, what over-the-counter medicines should I include?

    Over-the-counter medications, such as pain relievers, cough suppressants, antihistamines, and antidiarrheal medications, should be prepared as an emergency supply.

  3. In addition to my important paperwork, what kind of records should I keep?

    Make sure you keep copies of all your prescriptions. If you lose, run out, or damage your medicine, you may need them. A written record of your prescriptions makes it easier for another doctor to write a refill if you cannot reach your doctor or pharmacy.

  4. With medicine, how do I travel (e.g., evacuate)?

    Keep medicines out of the glove compartment of your car. Make sure they are kept in their original containers. Keep the containers out of reach of children and pets. (3, 4)

  5. In an emergency, what should I do with my medicine?

    Medicines should be stored in a cool, dry place away from heat, air, light, and moisture.

  6. What are the best ways to store medicines at home and when traveling (e.g., when evacuating) with children and pets?

    No medicine, including those you buy without a prescription, is safe if it is taken in the wrong way or by the wrong person or animal. Keep your medicines out of sight and reach to prevent adverse drug reactions.

  7.  During a power outage, how can I keep medicines cold?

    Make sure to use a cooler, ice, and chemical ice packs.Keep your insulin as cool as possible without freezing it if you use it to manage diabetes. Insulin that has been frozen can break down and become less effective. It is safe to use insulin in opened or unopened vials stored at room temperature (15°C to 26°C) for up to 4 weeks.

  8. In an emergency, how can I judge a medicine’s safety?

    If the color, texture, or smell of your medicine has changed, do not take it, regardless of its expiration date. Do not take pills that stick together, are harder or softer than normal, or are cracked or chipped. If you are unsure about a drug’s safety, speak with your pharmacist or healthcare provider. Throw it out if you’re unsure.

  9. What is the best way to dispose of expired, unwanted, unused, or damaged prescription medicines?

    Dropping off medicine at a drug take-back location is the best way to dispose of most medications. (7) This may be your local pharmacy or police station.

  10. In the event that my medicine is damaged, how can I take it as prescribed? If I take the same medicine as a friend or family member, can I share it with them?

    Only the person whose name appears on the prescription can use medicines safely. Using someone else’s prescription medicine may cause an allergic reaction, an interaction with other medications, or other serious side effects. When sharing drugs, people may experience side effects if they ration their supply.(8)

Make your pharmacist an integral part of your healthcare team. If you have questions about medicine, ask your pharmacist or the FDA.