September 25th marks World Pharmacist Day, an important occasion in every calendar I’m sure, but also a good opportunity to look at the ways your pharmacist can be helpful to you …
1. Offer advice
- What is my medicine and what is it supposed to do?
- When and how do I take my medicine?
- Should I avoid certain foods, drinks or activities?
- What side effects should I expect?
- What do I do if I forget to take my medicine?
- Can I take this medicine if I am pregnant or breast feeding?
- How should I store my medicine?
As part of the dispensing process, your Pharmacist will have checked your prescription for legality, accuracy and interactions with any of your other medicines. The medicine, dose and instructions are checked to see that they are right for you. Any side effects are considered and your Pharmacist will ring your Doctor with any queries or suggestions. He/she will check that you receive the maximum funding you are entitled to and keep records of your medicine and safety net.
2. Offer convenient health care
Pharmacists have long been regarded as a first port of call for health queries but over recent years, there has been several new medicines Pharmacists can recommend that you would have previously had to see your Doctor for. Many Pharmacists have done extra training to offer treatments for urinary infection, erectile dysfunction, migraines, conjunctivitis, cold sores, emergency contraception and quitting smoking. Vaccines can now be administered in pharmacy and in 2017, Pharmacists have been able to offer funded influenza vaccinations. These medicines require a consultation with the Pharmacist but it means that treatments are easily accessible when you need them.
Of course, your pharmacy is stocked with over the counter medicines for common health conditions. Your pharmacist is available to offer advice on ailments, supplements and how best to stay fit and healthy.
3. Work with you to manage your medicines
Living independently is very important for many people but juggling multiple medicines can be confusing. Studies have found that up to 50% of people generally don’t take their medicines as prescribed and this can have an impact on their quality of life and independence. Your pharmacist can help you manage your medicines to take them safely and get the most from them. Many pharmacies offer extra care for people with long term conditions (high blood pressure, diabetes, arthritis etc). The care may include working you and/or your family to give tools to remember to take your medicines, reduce unnecessary trips to the doctor or pharmacy and refer you to other specialist services.
Another option is a Medicines Use Review (MUR) where a Pharmacist can sit down with you in a private consultation and discuss what medicines you are taking, how you take them and what you understand they are for and how they work. I like to think of them as a good check-up of how you are going with your medicines. This service is funded by the District Health Board in certain circumstances.
In practice this has some wonderful results. A while ago, we had a gorgeous lady come into the pharmacy, devastated by a diagnosis and overwhelmed with all the new medicines she was being given to take. She was given advice from different doctors and pharmacists and this led to more confusion. A MUR was done, her old medicines cleared out, her new medicines put into blister packs in weekly supply. She settled into the routine of blister packs, started taking the medicines as prescribed and started getting the benefit of them. This meant her condition was more controlled and manageable. She was also more in charge of her medicines.
A medicine use review can:
- Give you tools to make taking your medicines easier
- Provide funding for medication packs (for eligible patients)
- Find and investigate any medicine problems you may be having
- Help you understand more about your medicines
4. Test your blood pressure and blood glucose levels
5. Save you money
Many medicines in New Zealand are subsidised by the government reducing the cost significantly, but there are still other ways that you can save money.
- Keep a track of the number of prescriptions you collect for your family or collect them from the same pharmacy. After you pay for twenty items in one year (1st Feb to 31st Jan), you are entitled to a Prescription Subsidy Card or Safety Net Card and most medicines will be free.
- Hold your prescriptions at the pharmacy so they won’t be lost and receive reminders when your repeats are due to stop them expiring.
- Collect all your medicines and prescriptions at the same time to avoid extra costs at the doctors and transport costs.
- Bring your community services card details with you to the pharmacy.
- If you pay more than the $5.00 contribution to a medicine, ask if there is a less expensive brand you could have instead.
- If your pet needs a medicine, the vet can write out a prescription so you can shop around for the item and compare prices.
- Ask your pharmacist about buying some over the counter medicines in economical bulk packs.
6. Deliver to your door.
7. Pack your medicines into convenient packs to make it easier to remember to take your medicines.
8. Hold your prescriptions on file for you receive reminders when your repeats are due to stop them expiring.
9. Make up your script from a doctor’s fax or your phone request (if a repeat) to save you time waiting in the pharmacy.
If any of these services would benefit you or a family member you care about, please contact our pharmacist, Mel by phone on 068357948 or email on firstname.lastname@example.org.