Starting a new prescription medication may not seem like a big deal, but when you think about it, you’re introducing a new substance into your body, and should go in as informed as possible. Ideally, your health care provider would have gone over any potential side effects of the medicine with you, but there’s more to be aware of than that — and not all of it is written out on the prescription’s label.
That’s why it’s a good idea to talk to your pharmacist when picking up a new prescription. This is your chance to take advantage of their expertise — so when they ask you if you have any questions, go ahead and ask away.
But what if your mind goes blank and you’re not sure what to ask? In an email to Lifehacker, Susan Peppers, RPh, a pharmacist and vice president of Express Scripts Pharmacy, shared five basic questions we should be asking our pharmacists before beginning a new medication. Here’s what to know.
Questions to ask your pharmacist when picking up a new prescription
If you’d like to make the most of your time with your pharmacist — especially when you’re starting a new medication — Peppers recommends asking the following questions:
1. Could this medication interact with my vitamins and supplements?
When discussing your new medication with your pharmacist, don’t forget to mention any/all vitamins and supplements you’re currently taking. “Talk to a pharmacist about all the medications you take, especially when you are prescribed any new medication to confirm that non-prescription medications or supplements will interfere with your medications,” Peppers says.
2. I’m taking multiple meds. What do I need to know?
Same thing here: Your pharmacist can’t give you the most accurate information about your new prescription if you don’t let them know what you’re already taking. “If you are on multiple medications for a chronic condition(s), you should speak with a pharmacist any time there is a change to your medication regime to check for potential drug-drug interactions, medication overlap or gaps in care,” Peppers explains.
3. Could this prescription make me unsteady on my feet?
It’s important to know whether your new medication can make you dizzy or drowsy. And that’s not all: “There are other hazards in the home that can cause a fall, especially as one ages and needs to get up frequently during the night,” Peppers notes. “A pharmacist can provide home safety tips to avoid an accident.”
4. I sometimes forget to take my meds. What’s a reminder that works?
Everyone has their own preferred methods for staying on top of things, but if you’re having trouble remembering to take your medications, Peppers says that your pharmacist can suggest digital tools, like a reminder app, to prevent you from forgetting to take your medications.
5. Is there a more affordable option for my prescription?
Prescription medications can be extremely expensive — especially without health insurance. So if you’re unable to afford your prescription, ask your pharmacist if there are any other options — like generics, less expensive formulary drugs.