The pharmacy is more than a place to pick up your medicine. You can get answers to questions about your medicines too. Here are some tips.
Choose your pharmacy with the same care that you choose a doctor. It is best to use only one pharmacy. That way, your medicine records are at one location.
On your first pharmacy visit, answer questions about current and past health. Your pharmacist needs to know about:
Before taking any new medicine, make sure you can answer these questions:
Know the names of all your medicines—both prescription and nonprescription. Tell each doctor what medicines you take and why you are taking it. Also, know what each medicine looks like.
Make sure you know:
Your prescription order shows the length of time you should take the medicine. It will also show if you can get refills. Do not skip doses or stop medicine to save money or because you "feel better." Doing so can cause health problems that need more treatment.
Always use the same pharmacy. It will help the pharmacist look out for possible problems.
Certain foods or alcohol may not mix with your medicines. Some medicines can cause sleepiness and may affect activities such as driving.
All medicines can cause side effects. This does not mean the side effects will be serious. Your pharmacist will tell you about the most common side effects. If you have any unexplained effects, call your doctor or pharmacist.
If you forget your medicine, be sure you know what to do. Ask when you get the prescription. The decision to take a missed dose depends on the drug. If you miss a dose, do not panic. Do not take a double dose unless your doctor advises you to do so.
A generic version is equal to the brand name product. Not all medicines have generic versions. For those that do, a generic version can save you up to half the cost.
If not stored properly, medicines may lose their effectiveness. Most medicines need a cool, dry storage location. Some need refrigeration. The bathroom medicine cabinet is not the best storage place. Heat and humidity can cause problems with your medicine.
Make sure you know if this medicine is replacing another medicine.
Most liquid medicines come with a measuring device. Make sure you have one before you leave the pharmacy. If you do not have one, ask the pharmacist how to measure the dose you need. Do not use tableware, such as a tablespoon.
American Pharmacists Association
National Institute on Aging
Canadian Pharmacists Association
College of Pharmacists of British Columbia
How to dispose of unused medicines. Food and Drug Administration website. Available at: https://www.fda.gov/consumers/consumer-updates/where-and-how-dispose-unused-medicines. Accessed October 18, 2021.
Medicines: using them safely. Nemours Kids Health website. Available at: https://www.kidshealth.org/en/parents/medication-safety.html. Accessed October 18, 2021.
Stop, learn, go: tips for talking with your pharmacist to learn how to use medicines safely. Food and Drug Administration website. Available at: https://www.fda.gov/drugs/resources-you-drugs/stop-learn-go-tips-talking-your-pharmacist-learn-how-use-medicines-safely. Accessed October 18, 2021.
Last reviewed October 2021 by
EBSCO Medical Review Board
Last Updated: 10/18/2021