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Frequently Asked By Patients

What basic items should be stored in a well-stocked medicine cabinet?

You should have antiseptics and first-aid ointments to treat cuts and scrapes. Dressings such as assorted bandage sizes are critical. Thermometers, antihistamines, and emergency numbers for local police, fire and rescue personnel as well as your local poison control center are also important. A new national hotline (800-222-1222) will connect you to your local poison control center.

I’ve heard that you should pay attention to the expiration date on your prescription medication. Is that true?

Yes. Expired medicines often don’t work as well, and they can even be harmful. To make sure that you don’t accidentally take an out-of-date medication, you should clean out your medicine cabinet every year, throwing away:

  • Any medication that has changed color or formed a residue,
  • Aspirin or acetaminophen that is crumbly or smells strange,
  • Hydrogen peroxide that no longer bubbles when applied as a disinfectant, and
  • Eye drops that have expired.

How should I dispose of my medications that I no longer need or are expired?

The disposal of medication is a complex issue. Throwing the medication into the trash can be risky if found and eaten by children or pets. The trash will most likely be taken to a landfill which will place the medication into the soil and water supply of our environment. Flushing unwanted medication down a toilet or rinsing it into a sink can also cause environmental concerns because the medication is put into the water supply. A better solution for the disposal of unwanted medications is to return the unwanted medication to your pharmacist or physician for disposal as hazardous waste material.

How can I avoid taking too much prescription medicine?

Medications are prescribed in specific dosages to account for:

  • Age,
  • Weight, and
  • The minimum amount needed to treat a condition vs. the maximum amount that might result in harm or unwanted side effects.

The most important thing to remember when taking either prescription or non-prescription medications is to follow the dosage recommendations of your doctor or pharmacist. Today’s drugs are very complex, and the dosages tend to be precise for your needs. Either underdosing or overdosing can be harmful. This is why you should never share your medications with anyone else.

What should I drink when I take my medications?

Certain foods, beverages, alcohol, caffeine, and even cigarettes can interact with medicines. Generally, water is the best liquid to drink when taking a medication. However, there are exceptions to this rule.

For example, because certain types of aspirin can cause stomach upset, you may tolerate them better if you take them with milk. Certain medications may be absorbed into the body better when ingested with food. Talk to your doctor or pharmacist for more specific information.

Here are some examples of potentially harmful interactions between medications and food or drink:

  • Drinking alcohol when taking an antihistamine (can cause increased drowsiness),
  • Drinking alcohol when taking an aspirin or acetaminophen product for pain (can damage the liver),
  • Drinking caffeinated beverages when using inhalers for bronchial asthma, chronic bronchitis, or emphysema (these types of inhalers and caffeine both stimulate the nervous system), and
  • Eating food with certain blood pressure medications (food can sometimes decrease absorption)
  • How do I know if a nonprescription medication is working?
  • If your illness (i.e., fever, cough, or body ache) doesn’t get better in three to five days, you should seek additional medical care. Over-the-counter (nonprescription) drugs are meant to treat only the most minor health problems.

How can my pharmacist help me with my medication questions?

Patients need to work with their health care providers-including pharmacists-to make sure they receive the most benefit from their medicines. Keep a list of all prescription and non-prescription medicine and alternative medicines or dietary supplements you may be taking. Share that list with your doctor or pharmacist.

And don’t forget that if you’re ever a patient in a hospital or health system, you can always ask to speak to the pharmacist if you have medication questions. Working together, we can make sure that you receive the best treatment possible.

What if my insurance does not cover my medication, and the cost is too high?

If your copay is too high, we will contact your doctor for a suitable, lower-cost alternative.

What happens if I run out of medication, and I need a fast refill?

No problem is too big for us to handle. Our customers receive a courtesy call reminder when a refill order is due. If you fail to order your refill in time, we will rush the order to you. Your health is our number one priority.

What is compounding and how does it benefit me?

Pharmacy compounding is the art and science of preparing customized medications for patients. Its practice dates back to the origins of pharmacy; yet, compounding’s presence in the pharmacy profession has changed over the years. In the 1930s and 1940s, approximately 60% of all medications were compounded. With the advent of drug manufacturing in the 1950s and 1960s, compounding rapidly declined. The pharmacist’s role as a preparer of medications quickly changed to that of a dispenser of manufactured dosage forms.

However, within the last two decades, compounding has experienced a resurgence as modern technology and innovative techniques and research have allowed more pharmacists to customize medications to meet specific patient needs.

There are several reasons why pharmacists compound prescription medications. The most important reason is what the medical community calls “patient non-compliance.” Many patients are allergic to preservatives or dyes, or are sensitive to standard drug strengths. With a physician’s consent, a compounding pharmacist can change the strength of a medication, alter its form to make it easier for the patient to ingest, or add flavor to make it more palatable. The pharmacist also can prepare the medication using several unique delivery systems, such as a sublingual troche or lozenge, a lollipop, or a transdermal gel or cream that can be absorbed through the skin. For those patients who are having a hard time swallowing a capsule, a compounding pharmacist can make a liquid suspension instead.

Can my child (or my elderly parent) take compounded medication?

Yes. Children and the elderly are often the types of patients who benefit most from compounding. Often, parents have a tough time getting their children to take medicine because of the taste. A compounding pharmacist can work directly with the physician and the patient to select a flavoring agent, such as vanilla butternut or tutti frutti, which provides both an appropriate match for the medication’s properties and the patient’s taste preferences.

Compounding pharmacists also have helped patients who are experiencing chronic pain. For example, some arthritic patients cannot take certain medications due to gastrointestinal side effects. Working with their physician’s prescription, a compounding pharmacist can provide them with a topical preparation with the anti-inflammatory or analgesic their doctor has prescribed for them. Compounded prescriptions often are used for pain management in hospital care.

What kinds of prescriptions can be compounded?

Almost any kind. Compounded prescriptions are ideal for any patient requiring unique dosages and/or delivery devices, which can take the form of solutions, suppositories, sprays, oral rinses, lollipops and even as transdermal sticks. Compounding applications can include: Bio-identical Hormone Replacement Therapy, Veterinary, Hospice, Pediatric, Ophthalmic, Dental, Otic (for the ear), Dermatology, Medication Flavoring, Chronic Pain Management, Neuropathies, Sports Medicine, Infertility, Wound Therapy, Podiatry and Gastroenterology.

Will my insurance cover compounded medications?

Because compounded medications are exempt by law from having the National Drug Code ID numbers that manufactured products carry, some insurance companies will not directly reimburse the compounding pharmacy. However, almost every insurance plan allows for the patient to be reimbursed by sending in claims forms. While you may be paying a pharmacy directly for a compounded prescription, most insurance plans should cover the final cost. Because of these inconsistencies, it is best to consult your personal insurance company regarding compounding pharmaceuticals with any questions you may have.

Is compounding expensive?

Compounding may or may not cost more than conventional medication. Its cost depends on the type of dosage form and equipment required, plus the time spent researching and preparing the medication. Fortunately, compounding pharmacists have access to pure-grade quality chemicals which dramatically lower overall costs and allow them to be very competitive with commercially manufactured products.