The 411 On Prescriptions!

Rob Wilkins, RPh - Ritzman Pharmacy within Buehler's Fresh Foods Market, Ashland

Q: Why do I get so many papers with my prescriptions?

A: The patient information leaflet that you receive with each new prescription is meant to reinforce the information you receive from the pharmacist when you pick up your medications.  It's a good idea to read these over before taking any new medication since they list such things as warnings, side effects, and the proper way to take medication.


Q: Should I always take my medication with food?

A: Some medications should be taken with food, but not all.  If a medication is to be taken with food or on an empty stomach, there will be a warning sticker on the bottle (at Ritzman the stickers are yellow).  It is important to pay close attention to any warning stickers on your bottle.


Q: I have heard that some medications can deplete your body of important nutrients. How do I know if my prescription does that and what do I do about it?

A: The best way to know if your medication can deplete nutrients is to check with your pharmacist.  It is estimated that only 4% of nutrient depletion issues are considered major, 44% are considered moderate, and 36% are insignificant.  Example of drugs that can cause major depletion issues are diuretics (such as furosemide, and hydrochlorothiazide) which can deplete potassium, magnesium and calcium; Proton-pump inhibitors, or PPI's, (such as Nexium®, Prevacid®, and Protonix®) can deplete magnesium.  Your pharmacist is an excellent source for determining the extent of depletion of your medications and what supplements to take that may help.


Q: How should I store my medications?

A: Most medications should be stored at room temperature away from excess humidity.  For example, do not store medications in places such as a medicine cabinet in a bathroom.  Some need to be stored in the refrigerator, such as some children's antibiotics and insulins.  If a medication needs special storage conditions, there will be a warning sticker on the bottle.


Q: I feel like my prescriptions are making me feel sick all the time.  What should I do?

A: First, talk to your pharmacist or physician before discontinuing any medication.  There can be many reasons why you feel sick all the time.  It could be the result of an interaction with another medication. You may need an adjustment in your dose, or the physician may need to switch you to a different medication that is better tolerated.  Always feel free to ask your Ritzman pharmacist any questions you may have about your prescription.  Consider us part of your healthcare team.


Q: My mother was taking quite a few medications before she passed away recently.  How should I dispose of her medications?

A: Some communities offer "medication take back" programs which allow you to bring unused medications to a central location for disposal, or you can dispose of them yourself.  Most medications can be thrown in the trash with some preparation.  Take them out of their original container and mix them with coffee grounds or kitty litter.  Then place in a sealed plastic bag and throw in the trash.  A few medications such as narcotic pain relievers should be flushed down the toilet or sink since these drugs pose a greater risk to children and pets.  Talk to your Ritzman pharmacist about the best way to dispose of unused medications.


Q: If I forget to pick up my prescription the day it is filled, will it still be there the next day? 

A: Yes, prescriptions are usually held about 10 days before they are returned to stock.


Q: I have heard that I can now get my vaccinations at Ritzman Pharmacies with a prescription.  What vaccines do you provide?

A: Ritzman pharmacists are certified to provide the following vaccines to customers 18 years or older with a prescription: Tetanus, Hepatitis A and B, Meningitis, Tetanus/Diptheria, and Zoster (to prevent shingles).  We can also give Influenza vaccines, to customers 14 years or older, and the Pneumonia vaccine, to customers 18 years or older, without a prescription. 


Q: When I brought my prescription to the pharmacy I was told it wasn't covered by my insurance, why?

A: Insurance companies have "preferred" drugs that they will pay for.  If a drug is not on their "preferred" list, the physician will either have to change the medication to one that is covered, or he/she will call the insurance company and try to get the original medication approved.   


Here are a few other things I recommend:

  • Eat right and exercise! Remember when mom said "Eat your veggies"? Many people could lower the dose of their medication, or possibly discontinue their medication if they altered their lifestyle.  Before starting an exercise routine, consult with your physician.
  • Keep a list of your medications in your wallet.
  • Ask your pharmacist for snap caps if you have trouble opening your medication bottle.
  • Use one pharmacy for all your medications since any drug interactions are more easily caught.
  • Take your medications everyday as prescribed.