Tips From A Pharmacist

In the dead of winter, it's not uncommon to have to pick something up from the pharmacy.  But before you do, take a look at some of these tips from the pharmacist.

Local pharmacist Ginger Pino says men wait longer before they go to the doctor, and rarely ask the pharmacist any questions.  Her first tip is to change that.

"If you don't ask, you're never going to know.  So try to pick your pharmacist's brain from time to time," she said.

Next, as you look at the over-the-counter medications in the long, colorful, cough and cold section, remember that there are only about 5 different active ingredients in the whole aisle.  Compare the ingredients from medicine to medicine to make sure you're not double-dosing on the same drug.

And speaking of ingredients, Pino says ingredients in a name-brand drug and it's generic brand counterpart are exactly the same; only dyes and fillers are (and can be legally) different.  you can save money by going generic.

Be sure to pay attention to dose sizes of a pill.

"A lot of time the higher strength of a medication may cost the exact same as a lower strength of the medication," Pino said.

That means if you need to take 50 milligrams of a drug, but the pills come in 100-miligram pills, you can make your medicine last longer by using a pill cutter. Or, if you have trouble swallowing pills, a pharmacy can often compound, or customize your prescription with your doctor's approval.  If the pill is too big, they can make a smaller version of the drug, or even give you liquid instead of a capsule.

Here are some more tips from Pino that can keep you safe and save you money.

  • Choose a pharmacist that you like and stay with him/her.  They will have all the drugs you use presently on file.  That let's them know if a new drug will have any bad interactions.
  • Remember the names of the drugs you take, or write them down.  That way, no matter where you go, your pharmacist can spot any red flags when it comes to prescription combinations.
  • Remember that pharmacists are not doctors, and they will never recommend anything against your doctor.
  • Ask if over-the-counter meds will make you drowsy, if you can take them during the day or at night, etc.
  • Remember, over-the-counter drugs are for short term relief; they're not meant for consumers to "doctor" themselves.  If you don't get better for a long time, see a doctor.

Pino says it's important to help the pharmacist help you.

Spencer Blake, Newschannel 6