Medication Information Destination

The other day a patient came into the store complaining of white patches on her tongue and a dry, chalky taste in her mouth.  My partner was working with her and he said, after a discussion with her, that she had been using her new steroid inhaler now for over three weeks without rinsing her mouth with water after use.  Furthermore, because of this, she had recently stopped using her long acting steroid inhaler and had gone back to just using her short acting rescue inhaler.  

Upon further discussion, my partner understood that the patient had not received any counseling about her new prescription when she had picked it up at a big box pharmacy a few weeks ago.  No one had counseled her about how to use the inhaler, what side effect or monitoring parameters to look out for, how to use it in relation to her other medications, or any of the other many important aspects of the medication that should be covered in a face-to-face counseling session with your pharmacist. 

This patient was having severe shortness of breath and wheezing from asthma induced by a respiratory infection and her doctor had prescribed a steroid inhaler to help reduce the swelling and inflammation in the airways of her lungs.  There are many important topics to discuss when counseling a patient about their new steroid inhaler; however, at a minimum, a patient should never leave the store without understanding the importance of rinsing their mouth out with water following the administration of a steroid inhaler dose.  

Community pharmacies are much more than just places you go to pick up your prescriptions.  Among other things, I like to consider the community pharmacy a Medication Information Destination.   Yes, while you are at the pharmacy you will pick up your prescription; however, equally as important, you will pick up your medication information.

When you walk into your big box pharmacy, stand in line for 10 minutes and then pick up your prescription, do you also leave with your appropriate medication information.  Does your pharmacist take the time to meet you in the counseling area and discuss all of the important counseling aspects of each medication with you?  If the is medication is a refill, will your pharmacist ask you how you are doing with it and if you have come up with any questions since you last came into the store?

Quite often, the answer is yes, the pharmacist is allowed appropriate time for medication counseling.  If the answer is no, then take some time on a free afternoon, visit four or five local pharmacies, interview the pharmacist for a couple minutes, and choose a pharmacy you feel comfortable with.

I understand that many insurance companies require patients to fill their prescriptions through mail-order pharmacies in order to get the best pricing; however, does your mail-order pharmacist call you each time they send you a new prescription in order to discuss all of the OBRA 90 mandated pharmacist counseling information?  If you have questions, do you need to call the mail-order pharmacy and wait for a pharmacist to come to the phone in order to ask your questions?

I encourage patients with mail-order plans to call their insurance company and request the option to use their own community pharmacy.   Quite often, just a simple phone call is all it takes for an insurance company to allow a patient to pick up their prescriptions at a local community pharmacy.

Remember, each and every prescription has its own set of monitoring parameters, side effects, interactions and unique counseling information associated with it.  Your community pharmacy is your own personal Medication Information Destination.  Not only do you pick up your prescriptions from your community pharmacy, you also take home with you, from your counseling session with the pharmacist, all of the important information necessary in order to optimize your therapy with that particular medication.


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