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Pharmacist's Journal

Jeremy Ebert

The Benefits and Risks of Aspirin

By Jeremy A. Ebert, Pharm.D., PGY1 Pharmacy Practice Resident, St. Rita’s Medical Center, Lima, Ohio

Aspirin has been used since ancient times to relieve pain and inflammation. Today, aspirin is often recommended for patients who have suffered heart attacks or strokes. But what are the risks you should be aware of? More

Lori Dupree

Staying Safe While Taking Acetaminophen

By Lori C. Dupree, Pharm.D., BCPS, President of Clincomm Consulting, LLC, Lexington, S.C., and a consultant pharmacist with Neil Medical Group; and Brittany Samples and Erin Weaver, 2014 Pharm.D. candidates, Wingate University School of Pharmacy, Wingate, N.C.

Did you know that your medicine cabinet might contain a potentially dangerous medication? This medicine is a pain and fever reducer that many people take regularly. Its’ generic name is acetaminophen, but you may know it by its brand name: Tylenol®. More

Terri Albarano

New Law Designed to Improve Medication Safety, Security

By Terri Albarano, M.S., Pharm.D., Clinical Marketing Manager, Specialty Pharmaceuticals / Nutrition, Baxter Healthcare Corporation

Over the last two years, you may have seen news stories about outbreaks of fungal meningitis that were occurring across the country. This national health care scare was traced back to contaminated epidural steroid injections made by the New England Compounding Center (NECC) in Framingham, Mass. This tainted medication had been injected into the spinal cord area of people, usually to treat back pain. More

Jacquline Olin
The In’s and Out’s of Proper Inhaler Use

By Jacqueline L. Olin, M.S., Pharm.D., BCPS, CPP, CDE, Associate Professor of Pharmacy, Wingate University School of Pharmacy, Wingate, N.C.; and Laura MacCall, a 2014 Pharm.D. candidate, Wingate University School of Pharmacy

Inhaled medicines are used for treating breathing problems such as asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). Unlike medications that are swallowed, inhalers are designed to get the medicine directly to the lungs. More

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Featured Article
Christina ThurberDo You Have Any Questions for the Pharmacist?

By Christina Thurber, Pharm.D.
St. Rita’s Medical Center, Lima, OH

Each time you go to the pharmacy to pick up your prescriptions, a pharmacist or pharmacy technician typically asks if you have any questions about the medications. It can be difficult to think of questions on the spot, especially when you are in a hurry. Understanding how to take your medicine is very important. Here is a list of questions you should keep in mind and ask about each new medication that you pick up at your local pharmacy:

What is this medication used for?
It is important that you understand why your physician wants you to take the medication.

Should this medication be taken at a certain time of day, including mealtimes?
Some medications work best if taken at a certain time. Some medications should be avoided before bedtime. Make sure you know when your medicine should be taken and how many hours you should wait between doses. Also ask if your medication should be taken around mealtimes. For example, some medications should be taken on an empty stomach and others should be taken with food.

What should I do if I miss a dose?
To help you remember to take your medicines, you should take them at the same time every day. With today's busy lifestyle, it is very easy to occasionally forget to take your medication. Sometimes medications can be taken as soon as we remember; other times, we should wait for the next scheduled dose. Knowing what to do if you miss a dose helps you gain the most benefit from your medication while avoiding side effects from taking too many doses in one day.

What side effects may occur with this medication?
Before you leave the pharmacy, make sure you know what to expect from your medication. Some side effects are rare, some are serious, and some are signs that the medication is actually working the way that it should. It's important that you know what to expect from your medication and which side effects should be reported to your doctor.

Are there any foods or medications I should avoid with my new medication?
Some foods, dietary supplements, or medications may cause your new medicine to be ineffective or to not work as it should. Certain foods or medications may also cause you to have side effects with your new medication. It is important that you understand what changes you may need to make to your diet. You should also ask about which medicines to avoid while taking your new prescription, including non-prescription medications such as products you may buy for pain, fever, or colds.

Asking these questions at the pharmacy can help put you in control of your health. You should understand what to expect from your new medications, what they are being used to treat, and how you should take them in order to get the most benefit. The above list should help you get started the next time you hear the question, "Do you have any questions for the pharmacist?"

The views expressed in “Pharmacist’s Journal” do not necessarily represent the views of the American Society of Health-System Pharmacists.