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Know Your Meds - Know Your Pharmacist: July 1, 2014

Chances are, your pharmacist knows you better than you think. If you refill at the same location, they may be primely positioned to spot a problem.

“Thirty percent of medications are really not refilled by the patient after that first fill. And so there’s a lot of therapy that maybe the primary care provider or specialist might think a patient is on but they really are not on an ongoing basis,” says John Armistead, who is the Director of Pharmacy for Lee Memorial Health System.

Non-compliance is a huge problem. Mostly resulting from dangerous medication mix-ups or skipped meds. Studies find up to 70% of patients never ask their pharmacist questions or express concerns.

“Sometimes the patient is experiencing some side effects and then they decide they’re not going to take that one anymore. They often do not report back to the physician that they don’t feel well while they take that medication,” says Armistead.

Instead, patients should feel comfortable speaking up. A pharmacist does much more than count pills and measure medicines. They are trained in the ways drugs affect the body and interact with each other.

“Medication therapy is really a key to self-care in home environment. So it’s absolutely essential that a patient understand why they are taking a medication, what side effects might they experience if they’re taking that medication, and who to contact if they do have problems,” says Armistead.

Prescription drugs are a complicated business, so when you have doubt, check it out - with a professional.