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Pharmacist's Journal

Spring Isn’t the Only Time of Year for Allergies

By Chelsea M. Zavilla, B.S.P.S., School of Pharmacy, University of Pittsburgh, and Sue Skledar, R.Ph., M.P.H., FASHP, clinical specialist, UPMC Health System Formulary Management and Drug Use Policy Associate Professor, School of Pharmacy, University of Pittsburgh

If you are one of the millions worldwide who experience seasonal allergies, the fall season can bring about real discomfort. Allergies occur when your body’s immune system reacts to an allergen, such as pollen, weeds, grass, dust, or pet dander. More

How Food Interacts with Your Medications

By Adam Trimble, Pharm.D., PGY-1 Pharmacy Resident at St. Rita’s Medical Center, Lima, OH

Whenever you pick up a prescription medication, you may notice little stickers on the bottle that say “Take on an empty stomach” or “Take with food.” You may also find similar instructions on the nonprescription (over-the-counter) Drug Facts label as well. More

Sharing Prescription Medicines Can Be Bad for Your Health

By Christopher Campbell, Pharm.D., PGY1 Resident, George Regents Medical Center, Augusta; and Christina E. DeRemer, Pharm.D., BCPS, Primary Care Clinical Pharmacist & Medicine Team Supervisor, Georgia Regents Health System

Does your family have a stockpile of prescription medications that you keep “just in case?” Have you ever used a prescription medication that was not meant for you? How often have you given someone else your medications?

Prescription medication is intended to be used under the direct care of a doctor who is responsible for...More

Expanding Measles Outbreak Points to the Importance of Vaccinations

By Terri Albarano, M.S., Pharm.D., Clinical Marketing Manager, Specialty Pharmaceuticals/Nutrition, Baxter Healthcare, Round Lake, IL; and Sean McGonigle, Pharm.D., PGY2 Infectious Diseases Pharmacy Resident, Allegheny General Hospital, Pittsburgh, PA

Recent reports of measles outbreaks in California and a number of other states are a real cause for concern for parents, caregivers, individuals who have an impaired ability to fight disease, and healthcare providers. Any individual who is unvaccinated is at risk for contracting this highly contagious disease. Here is what you need to know about the measles virus and what you can do to prevent yourself or anyone in your family from catching it...More

Are You Involved in a Clinical Study? Here’s How to Take Your Medications Safely

By Rivka Siden, M.S., Pharm.D., Clinical Pharmacy Specialist, and Kim Redic, Pharm.D., BCPS, Manager, University of Michigan Health-System Research Pharmacy, Ann Arbor, MI

Medications used in clinical studies include both medications that have not yet been approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) as well as FDA-approved medications that are being tested for safety and effectiveness to treat new or different health conditions. If you are participating in a clinical study and are taking a study medication, here is some important information on how to safely take, handle, and store it. More

Everything You Need to Know about the 2015 Flu Season

By Deborah Pasko, Pharm.D., MHA, Director, ASHP Medication Safety & Quality, and Erika L. Thomas, M.B.A., B.S.Pharm., Director, ASHP’s Section of Inpatient Care Practitioners

The 2014-2015 flu season is proving to be a very challenging one. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the United States experiences epidemics of seasonal flu each year. At the beginning of January 2015, CDC data are showing elevated flu activity in a majority of states with increasing hospitalizations rates, especially in people 65 years and older. More

Want to Avoid the Flu this Season? Be Sure to Get Vaccinated

By Mallory Snyder, Pharm.D., MPH, PGY1 Health-System Administration Resident, University of Minnesota Medical Center—Fairview, Minneapolis

Influenza, commonly known as the flu, is an illness that can affect people at any age and from any walk of life. If untreated, influenza can lead to very serious complications, including hospitalization or even death. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), as many as 49,000 Americans die each year from flu-related complications. That’s why it is so important to protect yourself, now that flu season is upon us, by receiving an influenza vaccine. More

What Your Pharmacist Can Do For You

By Joshua Tramel, Pharm.D., PGY-1 Pharmacy Resident, North Mississippi Medical Center, Tupelo

I am often asked by my family, friends, and patients about my role as a pharmacist in a hospital setting. My patient care role has many facets to it, and what I do is quite different from what the average person might have in mind. Many people have a particular image of pharmacists as medication experts in white coats who work behind community pharmacy counters to dispense prescriptions. I’ve found that patients often assume that this is exactly what pharmacists who work in hospitals and clinics do as well. More

The Do’s and Don’ts of Cough and Cold Medicines

By Emily P. Graham, Pharm.D., M.S., PGY1 Resident, University of Pittsburgh Medical Center, Pittsburgh, Penn.

Cold and flu season is the time of year when sniffles, coughs, aches, and pains seem to be around every corner. Anyone with a cold or the flu wants relief for their symptoms. Picking the right non-prescription product, however, may seem overwhelming with all of the different available options. Hundreds of products advertise their ability to fix your symptoms, and they come in many different packages and combinations. Which option is the best one for you? More

New Changes in Regulations for Certain Prescription Painkillers

By Han Feng, Pharm.D., PGY2 medication safety resident, Johns Hopkins Hospital, Baltimore

Have you heard about recent changes related to the regulation of certain prescription painkillers? Based on reports of dependence, abuse, and deaths, the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), a U.S. federal law enforcement agency, decided to classify tramadol as a controlled substance and increase regulation of hydrocodone combination products, such as Hycodan, Lorcet, Tussionex, and Vicodin. More

Ever Wonder Which Medications Your Insurance Covers?

By Colleen Moroney, 2015 Pharm.D. candidate, University of Pittsburgh School of Pharmacy, and Sue Skledar, R.Ph., MPH, FASHP, clinical specialist, University of Pittsburgh Medical Center Health System Formulary Management and Drug Use Policy and associate professor, University of Pittsburgh School of Pharmacy

When you receive a prescription from your doctor, you may be uncertain how much of the cost will be covered by your insurance. You may wonder, “Can I afford this medication?” Sometimes the answer to this question may be hard to find. More

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

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

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

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

Using PRN or "As Needed" Medicines Safely

By Christina E. DeRemer, Pharm.D., BCPS, Primary Care Clinical Pharmacist & Medicine Team Supervisor, Pharmacy Residency Program Coordinator, Georgia Regents Health System, Augusta

Some medications come with specific instructions for use every day, such as "Take 1 tablet by mouth every 8 hours. More

How to Safely Store and Dispose of Your Medications

By Trisha LaPointe, Pharm.D., BCPS, Associate Professor of Pharmacy Practice, Massachusetts College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences, Boston

Take a glance inside your bathroom medicine cabinet. What did you find? A full bottle of that heart medication your doctor told you to stop taking?More

Managing Muscle Pain Related to Cholesterol Medication

By Lori C. Dupree, Pharm.D., BCPS, President of Clincomm Consulting, LLC, Lexington, S.C.

The treatment of high cholesterol has improved care for many people. Most people who have diabetes or those who have had a stroke or heart attack benefit from lower cholesterol levels. More

Many Options are Available to Help You Control High Blood Pressure

By Jacqueline L. Olin, M.S., Pharm.D., BCPS, CPP, CDE, is associate professor of pharmacy, Wingate University School of Pharmacy, Wingate, N.C.

According to the Centers for Disease Control, one out of every three American adults has high blood pressure (HBP), or hypertension. This means that it is very likely that you or someone you know has HBP. More

Why Do Patients Need Access to Compounded Medicines

By Susan Flaker, Pharm.D., Inpatient Pharmacy Supervisor, Barnes Jewish Hospital, St. Louis Mo.

Over the last few years, more and more stories have appeared in the news regarding compounded medications. Recently, the New England Compounding Center (NECC) came under scrutiny after more than 400 patients who received a medication from NECC contracted fungal meningitis. At the time of this post, 31 people had died from the infection. More

Warfarin Therapy: The B.E.S.T. Course

By Cynthia Reilly, B.S. Pharm., Director of the Practice Development Division for the American Society of Health-System Pharmacists

Warfarin is a commonly prescribed anticoagulant (blood thinner). It is used to prevent clots caused by an abnormal heart rhythm, after a heart attack or stroke, or following surgery. More

Looking Beyond Medications to Find Better Health

By Lakesha Butler, Pharm.D., BCPS, Clinical Assistant Professor, Southern Illinois University Edwardsville School of Pharmacy

Medications are not the only means of improving your health. Simple lifestyle changes can have a measurable, positive effect on your health. More

Does “Natural” Always Mean "Safe"?

By Melissa Ortega, Pharm.D. candidate 2010, Nova Southeastern University, Fort Lauderdale, FL

Have you noticed how many shelves at your local drugstore are taken up these days by vitamins and herbal
supplements? More

How Language Barriers Can Affect Safe Medication Use

By Elaine Lindsay Twedt, Pharm.D., BCPS, CACP, AE-C

People who speak English as a second language often find life in the U.S. to be confusing, as they struggle to understand both the written and spoken word. More

Managing Your Medications 24/7

By Demetra Antimisiaris, Pharm.D., CGP, FASCP

Did you know that the length of a typical doctor’s office visit is shrinking? Doctors are now only spending about seven minutes on average with each patient. More

Can You Double Up on Pain Killers?

By Gina Ryan, Pharm.D., BPCS, CDE

My brother-in-law recently asked me if he could take Aleve (naproxen) and Motrin (ibuprofen, Advil) together. Apparently, he pulled a muscle while trying to relive the glory days of his college football playing. More

The Importance of Keeping a Medication List

By Mike Berger, Pharm.D.

In my job, I frequently come across situations that show why it’s so important for patients to tell their doctors, pharmacists, and other healthcare providers about the prescription... More

Hospital Pharmacists Can Help You Stay Safe

By Kathy Crea, Pharm.D., BCPS

If you have ever been admitted to a hospital as a patient, you probably received medications while you were there. Did you ever wonder where these medicines came from...More

The Cost of Safe Medication Use

By Mike Worsham, D.Ph., MHA

Have you ever received a hospital bill and wondered why the medications you were given during your stay seemed to cost more than the same medications purchased from your community pharmacy? More

Honesty Really is the Best Policy...

By Gina Ryan, Pharm.D., BPCS, CDE

When a doctor, nurse, or pharmacist asks you if you are taking your medications for a chronic (long-lasting) condition, it’s important that you answer honestly. More

The Do's and Don'ts of Tablet-Splitting

By Elaine Lindsay Twedt, Pharm.D., BCPS, CACP, AE-C

Recently, I was reviewing medications with a patient. He had a vial containing a 3-month supply of tablets with instructions to "take ½ tablet daily." I looked inside the vial and said, "Uh oh... More

What’s a Formulary?

By Marlaine Mance, Pharm.D., BCNSP

Have you ever been hospitalized and discovered that your hospital doesn’t stock the specific name-brand medication you take at home? That’s because most hospitals don’t have the space or the financial ability to stock all FDA-approved medications...More

Are You Covered Under the Medicare Prescription Program?

By Alania Pendarvis, Pharm.D

In my work, I often run across patients who are confused by the in’s and out’s of the complicated federal Medicare prescription drug program...More