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13 Secrets Your Pharmacist Might Not Be Telling You

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Have you ever wondered what your pharmacist might know that they’re not telling you? According to a Reader’s Digest investigation, there are at least 13 things you should bear in mind the next time you visit the pharmacy counter:

  • 1. Don’t try to get anything past your pharmacist—prescriptions for painkillers or sleeping aids always get extra scrutiny.
  • 2. Drive-through windows are distracting—think twice about using your pharmacy’s drive-through window. Distracted pharmacists are not conducive to properly filling your medications.
  • 3. Generics are a close match for most brand names—but you might want to be careful with blood thinners or thyroid medications since small differences between the generic and the brand name drug can have big effects.
  • 4. Pharmacist struggle to read your doctor’s handwriting, too—e-prescribing can help with this problem. Sadly, as of 2006, less than 20% of prescriptions are being electronically transmitted.
  • 5. They hate insurance companies, too—even if a medication is working for you, if your insurance company insists you switch to something cheaper the pharmacy has to oblige. Then they’re stuck trying to explain the change in medications to the customer.
  • 6. Pharmacists can give flu shots in most states.
  • 7. They make mistakes—about 2 million a year. A bar coding system could help prevent pharmacists from pulling the wrong drug off the shelf or from giving the wrong dose of the right drug.
  • 8. A less-qualified pharmacy technician may have actually filled your prescription—currently there is no national standard for techs’ training and responsibilities.
  • 9. Pharmacists are allowed to give you a generic refill that’s different from the one you started with—when in doubt, ask or check online resources like cvs.com to double-check your pill.
  • 10. Pharmacists aren’t mind readers—unfortunately, there is no giant database that tracks all your medications and checks for interactions between drugs. It is important that you use one pharmacy and stick to it and if you start using a new one, make sure that the new pharmacists know what you’re taking.
  • 11. Avoid the lines—it gets particularly busy on Monday and Tuesday evenings since prescriptions get dropped off during the weekend.
  • 12. Check into the $4 generics offered by chains like Target or Kroger. Also, consider asking your current pharmacy if it will match these prices.
  • 13. Yelling at the pharmacist won’t help—if you can’t reach your doctor or insurance company to approve a refill, there is nothing your pharmacist can do about it. Yelling will only frustrate you and irritate your pharmacist.

Please keep these “secrets” in mind the next time you go to the pharmacy—they could save you time, frustration, and even your life.

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  1. Mike Bryant says:
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    There is a quite a mix of types of information there that both protects you and helps with getting the best product. Very interesting list.