17 Things You Didn’t Know Your Pharmacist Can Do

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6. Prevent harmful drug interactions

A medication has many ingredients in it. If you take several different pills for various conditions, you may be mixing substances which, if taken together, could result in harmful side effects, such as agitation, nausea, vomiting, dramatic drops in blood pressure, cardiac failure, and even death. Many medications contain aspirin, while many cold medications contain acetaminophen, commonly sold as Tylenol. So you may be taking too much Tylenol without even knowing it, and this could lead to liver toxicity, according to Kelly Moore, a hospital-based pharmacist in New York. “Herbal products and vitamins often interact with medications, too.” Ginseng, goldenseal, and St. John’s wort are just a few examples of potent herbs with documented high risk of drug interactions.

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7. Provide medication therapy management

Medication Therapy Management (MTM) basically means helping patients get the most from their meds. Services include explaining to patients the appropriate use of their medication, monitoring their reaction to the treatment, evaluating its safety and effectiveness, as well as helping possibly lower the costs of medicines or treatment.

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8. Consult on diagnosis at the hospital

Hospital pharmacists are a lot like pharmacists you meet at your local or retail drug store. Their primary responsibility is to make sure a patient is taking a safe medication appropriate for his or her condition. Hospital-based pharmacists have a slightly expanded role that also includes making patient rounds, consulting on diagnoses, recommending a course of treatment, and choosing the appropriate medication and dosage for patients.

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9. Call your doctor to change your prescription

With the exception of a few states that allow pharmacists to prescribe birth control pills, pharmacists are not generally allowed (yet) to write prescriptions. What they can do, however, is call your doctor and suggest a different course of treatment, another medication, or a different dosage. This is fairly common in hospital pharmacies, according to Moore.

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10. Offer alternatives

Pharmacists are the drug experts. They know, in some cases better than your doctor, how a medication works and whether there is an alternative that is equally as effective and possibly cheaper. Pharmacists can suggest a generic version of whatever you are prescribed that will usually be cheaper, Moore said.