8 KNOW YOUR MEDICINES • FEBRUARY 2014
problems before you start taking a medicine. “It’s becoming a
part of the practice to schedule an appointment with a patient
who has a chronic condition or complex therapies,” De Monte
says. “[The pharmacist] goes over all of the medicines that the
patient is taking. This is called MTM, or medication therapy
SHARE YOUR INFORMATION
The American Heart Association recommends making your
doctor and pharmacist aware of all the medicines you are
taking. This means both prescription and OTC medicines. Let
your physician and pharmacist know about any allergies you
have. Don’t forget to mention which supplements, herbs, or
vitamins you use. Some medicines, foods and supplements or
vitamins could conflict with each other and cause problems.
If possible, try to go to the same pharmacy each time you
fill a prescription. There are benefits to having all of your
prescriptions filled at one pharmacy, says Selig D. Corman,
R.Ph., director of professional affairs at the Pharmacists Society
of the State of New York in Albany. “That provides a complete
patient profile so the pharmacist can efficiently counsel proper
use of medicines and prevent possible interactions. Also, the
pharmacist can determine if the patient is compliant because of
intervals between refills.”
If the interval between refills is too long, it indicates that a
patient could be skipping doses. On the flip side, notes Selig, if
the time between refills is too frequent, this could mean that a
patient is taking more medicine than the doctor has prescribed.
For your safety, your pharmacist can monitor the timeliness of
your refills and alert you if anything out of the ordinary raises a
It’s also important to try and buy any OTC medicines at the
same pharmacy where you get your prescriptions filled. That
way, if you have questions about whether an OTC medicine
will interact with prescription medicines you are taking, the
pharmacist can let you know because he or she will have
access to your prescription records.
MIND YOUR MEDS
Keeping track of your medicines on a daily basis is also
important. This can become a challenge
if you have to take several different
medicines each day. But there are ways
to help you remember what you have
already taken on any given day and
what you still need to take.
A plastic pillbox marked with days
of the week can be very useful for
this purpose. Just be sure to keep it
and all medicines up and out of the
sight of children who are in, or may
visit your home. You can also keep
a list with the names and dosages of
all the medicines you’re taking, both
prescription and OTC. Be sure to
include when you should take them.
“The list should be kept in [your] wallet,”
De Monte advises. This way you always
have it with you. It’s also a good idea to
put the list in a visible place at home,
like on your fridge.
“For convenience,” she adds, “dosing
is scheduled with an easily remembered
event—at meals, bedtime, first thing
The dos and don’ts of
• Do take all your prescribed medicines as directed by your doctor and
• Do read the label on your medicine’s container (See Understanding Medicine
Labels, on page 2, to learn how to read prescription and OTC drug labels.) Most
drugs can be stored at room temperature, so refrigeration is usually not required.
Read the label to be sure.
• Don’t store medicines in your bathroom’s medicine cabinet. It can get hot and
steamy in there. Also keep them away from your kitchen stove or dishwasher.
• Do check expiration dates on prescription and OTC medicines. Throw away
any that have expired. Ask your pharmacist about the best way to dispose of
• Don’t hesitate to ask your doctor or pharmacist if you have questions about how
to store your medicines properly.
• Do take precautions when small children or pets are around, even as visitors.
Place all medicines up and away and out of sight (visit upandaway.org for more
information on storing medicines safely).