Is it important what pharmacy I select to fill my prescriptions?
(Column: Ask the Pharmacist)
How Important is Your Pharmacy?
Steve Kaufman, RPH
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In new York State, you can fill your prescriptions at any pharmacy you chose. So how do you decide which pharmacy to use? For millions of people, drugs help them to stay out of hospitals, or to lead normal lives. Patients suffering from diseases such as high blood pressure, diabetes, heart disease, asthma, and various types of mental illnesses can be treated at home today because of the progress made in pharmaceutical research and pharmacology.

Perhaps you think a good pharmacist\patient relationship is not important. If so, consider these facts. Medicines do great things in healing, but today some are so powerful they can also do serious harm if not taken correctly. Some 10% of all hospital admissions are related to inappropriate prescription or over-the-counter medicine use. Among patients 65 years and older this percentage more than doubles, and it is estimated that these types of improper drug use result in more than 125,000 deaths each year. So how do you select a pharmacy?

All pharmacies and pharmacists are licensed by New York State, and pharmacists have been rated as the number one most respected profession for eight years in a row, so wherever you have prescriptions filled, it will be done by a highly qualified professional.

The five most important factors in choosing a pharmacy are:

5) Do they accept my insurance? With the high cost of medication, most patients need a pharmacy that will be able to bill their insurance for medications (Medicaid, Medicare, Blue Cross, Oxford, HIP, etc).
4) Location: you need a pharmacy that is within a reasonable distance from home and/or work.

3) Service: Does the pharmacy deliver? Can I open a charge account if I need one? Do you need a pharmacy that speaks a certain language (Spanish, Russian, Korean, Chinese, Hebrew, etc)?

2) Does the pharmacy keep patient profiles and check for drug interactions? Most pharmacies have this capability and this is the most important reason why you should fill all your prescriptions at the same pharmacy.

1) The pharmacist: you need to have an open relationship with your pharmacist. You should feel comfortable with him and be able to ask him any questions you need answered. Always ask questions if you have any doubts about your medications or its us, or don't understand something, whether it is about your prescription drugs or the over-the-counter medicines you use.

Remember, never leave the pharmacy without knowing at last these facts:
What is the name of the drug and what is it supposed to do?
How and when do you take it and for how long?
Are there any foods, drinks, other medications or activities that should be avoided while taking this medication?
Are there any side effects to this medication? Many medications have side effects but usually only a small percentage of people experience them.
If you require written information or instructions about the medication, ask for it. This is an important part of a pharmacist's job, and they always will take the time to make sure you have the details you need. When we have information on taking our medication the right way, we will not only be healthier, but we also help to substantially reduce health care costs for ourselves and others.
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