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Pharmacists help consumers safely monitor medicines

By Staff
Editor's note: The following article was submitted from Rush Foundation Hospital in observance of National Pharmacy Week, Oct. 20-26.
special to The Star
October 19, 2002
Consumers with questions about their medications don't have to worry about where to get information because pharmacists are among their best and most accessible medication experts.
Joy P. Alonzo, staff pharmacist with Rush Foundation Hospital, said a dialogue between the patient and pharmacist about any prescription and nonprescription medicines being taken will ensure that maximum health benefits are received and harmful side effects avoided.
Pharmacists can provide consumers with answers to questions that might arise from the myriad of online health information. Your pharmacist knows about interactions with food, medicines, or dietary supplements that can affect how medicines work. Some interactions can be dangerous. When picking up a new medicine, ask if it will work safely with other prescription and nonprescription medicines you may be taking. Tell your pharmacist about any herbal products that you may be using, as well.
Following the pharmacist's advice can also save money for consumers and help lower the nation's health care bill by ensuring proper medication use. Not following a medicine's instructions or discontinuing its use without consulting with your health care provider can lead to more expensive treatment, such as surgery or hospitalization.
Janet P. Engle, a pharmacist and president of the American Pharmaceutical Association, the national professional society of pharmacists, said pharmacists are actively changing their practices to meet the challenges of the health care system and their patient needs and demands.
According to the association, consumers should expect a higher level of service from today's pharmacists. Consumers should look to their pharmacists to provide medication-counseling services, including drug regimen reviews and drug interaction checks, coordination of patient care with physicians and other health care providers, and monitoring of side effects.
Some pharmacists can also perform limited patient testing, such as cholesterol screening, glucose monitoring and blood pressure checks, for serious health-threatening problems.