You and Your Pharmacist

Getting the Most Out of Your Medications

What should you ask your pharmacist?

Studies have shown that half of all Canadians do not take their prescription medications exactly as prescribed. Every year thousands of people are admitted into hospitals because they did not follow the instructions on their medication container.

Please talk to your pharmacist. Do not leave the pharmacy or hospital until you fully understand how to use your medication properly. Your pharmacist can work with you and other members of your health care team to make sure you choose the best medications to look after your health.

Not sure what to ask your pharmacist? Here is a list of questions you can consider:

  • Why am I taking this medication?
  • How and when should I take this medication?
  • Is "four times a day" the same as "every six hours"?
  • Do I have to wake up during the night to take my medication?
  • Am I supposed to swallow my medicine with food or water?
  • Is there anything I should or should not eat or drink while I am taking this medication?
  • What should I do if I miss my dose, or take two doses close together?
  • How will I know if this medication is working?
  • How will I remember to take my medicine?
  • I have allergies - is it safe for me to take this medication?
  • Are there any side effects I should watch for? Will it make me sleepy?
  • Will my medication interact with other drugs?
  • Can I drink alcohol while I am taking this medication?
  • Will it be affected by over-the-counter medications like painkillers or antacids?
  • Will it be affected by vitamins or herbal supplements?
  • Can I take this medication if I am pregnant or breast-feeding?
  • When will I feel better?
  • If I feel better can I stop taking it?
  • When should I see my doctor?
  • Can I get my medication in a container that is easier to open?
  • Where should I keep my medication?
  • Can I crush these pills if they're hard to swallow?

Also be sure to tell the pharmacist if you have any concerns about taking the medication. They may be able to suggest an alternative treatment or form, e.g., a liquid instead of a pill.