5 questions to ask your pharmacist

Posted at 7:15 AM, Oct 19, 2015
and last updated 2015-10-19 10:18:56-04

Nearly 70 percent of Americans are on at least one prescription drug, and more than half receive at least two prescriptions.

In New York alone, more than 250 million prescriptions were filled in 2014.

There's a lot you need to know before you head to pharmacy and Dr. Linda Bernstein tells us what we should be asking.

What is the importance of medication adherence?

Staying on track with your medications can be hard, especially when you have to take more than one a day.  Make sure you know the NCPIE list of what to ask about your medicine before taking it, which include:
•     What’s the brand and/or generic name of the medicine, and what specifically is it for?
•     How and when do I take it, and for how long?
•     What side effects should I expect, and what should I do about them?
What are some tools to optimize savings?

There are some easily accessible, free tools to help you get the best price on your prescription medication. Check out the Drug Price Lookup Tool and the free Prescription Savings Card, available on the FamilyWize website at and through the free FamilyWize app. You can see the FamilyWize price of your prescription before going to the pharmacy an can use the prescription savings card for available discounts.
Should I take this medicine on an empty stomach or with food?

Ask our pharmacist about whether you should take your medicine with food. They can help you set up a medication-taking calendar for best results.
Should I avoid any activities, foods, drinks or other medicines while taking this prescription?

Alcohol can increase drowsiness for many medicines, so be sure to ask whether it is safe to consumer alcohol while taking your medicines.

It is best to not drive or operate machinery until you know how medicine will affect you. Read the product warning labels.

The best way to avoid drug interactions is to present the complete list of medicines you take (prescription, over-the-counter, and herbal products) to all of your healthcare providers when you have a checkup. This will help to avoid drug duplication and combinations, which can affect your condition or put you at risk for unwanted side effects.

Inform your healthcare provide if you are pregnant or nursing, have a history of kidney or liver problems, smoke, or have drug allergies. All of these can have an effect on how your body reacts to medication.

Am I getting the best price for this medication?   Is there a generic version available? And is the generic version always as effective?

One thing that many consumers don’t realize is that pharmacy prices can vary – what you pay for your medications at one pharmacy might be significantly different than what you pay at another. Although it is always best to stick with one pharmacy, there are tools available, like the FamilyWize Drug Price Lookup Tool, that allow consumers to check prices at different pharmacies. Many of these tools are available online or as an app, making it easy for consumers to scout out the best price and know the price of their prescriptions before going to the pharmacy.

Generic drugs are copies of brand name drugs that have exactly the same dosage, intended use, effects, side effects, rout of administration, risks, safety, and strength as the original drug. In other words, their pharmacological effects are exactly the same as those of their brand name counterparts.

According to the Generic Pharmaceutical Association, generic medication can cost 30 to 80 percent less than their brand-name counterparts. Therefore, consumers should ask their doctor if their medication has a generic equivalent, or ask their pharmacist if the medication is available in a generic form when they look to fill a new or recurring prescription.