Today, I wanted to write about some of the most common pharmacy-related myths that I’ve heard. With some of these myths, you may already know the truth, but for others, maybe you might learn something new!
“All a pharmacist does is count pills all day.”
False, false, false, and more false. You may often only see a pharmacist counting pills day in and day out, but that is certainly not the extent of their daily duties. Especially now. Health care is changing at a very rapid rate, and the pharmacists’ role is changing and expanding with it. Pharmacists today must receive prescriptions over the phone from the doctor, verify every single prescription after it is filled before it is handed off to the patient, spend hours each day on the phone with various insurance companies, counsel patients on new medications, offer over-the-counter recommendations for patients who seek their help, give immunizations, preform blood pressure checks and other various physical assessments, and on top of all that, do anything and everything else that the other pharmacy staff is not able to do.
“Brand name medications work better than their generic form.”
Actually, generic medications work just as well as the brand name ones do. Some medications do not have a generic form, and therefore, the brand name must be dispensed. Some patients request the brand name medication, even if there is a cheaper, generic form available. This is due to a variety of reasons, but largely due to the misconception that brand name drugs provide a better response. Before a generic drug is even allowed to appear on the market, the FDA must prove that the medication is identical in chemical identity, strength, quality, potency, and purity to the brand name counterpart. I have heard the complaint that some generic drugs produce some unwanted side effects, while the brand name doesn’t. This is not due in part to anything about the active drug – this could have something to do with one of the inactive drug components or fillers present in the medication.
“Vitamins and other natural supplements are safe to take.”
The majority of the products in the vitamin and supplement aisle are actually not approved by the FDA, nor do they have to be. Some brands of products opt to participate in a voluntary quality assurance program by the USP (United States Pharmacopeia), where the supplements undergo very rigorous testing standards. Brands that do participate in this program are NatureMade, Kirkland Signature (Costco brand), TruNature, and others. With this verification, the USP has concluded that the product inside the bottle is what the label says it is – the correct amount of supplement in each tablet or capsule and has been manufactured under safe and sanitary conditions. Look for the USP verified mark on the bottle, which looks like THIS.
It is also important to mention that vitamins and supplements have the potential to interact with the prescription medications that you take. It is important to inform your doctor or pharmacist of the natural products that you regularly take, in order to prevent any harmful effects.
“It’s okay to share my prescription medication with a loved one if they have the same condition or symptoms as I do.”
This is never okay. Doctors prescribe specific medications at specific strengths, personalized for your specific condition or illness. Although someone may have the same symptoms as you do – you may even have 100% certainty that you know what ails them – giving them a prescription medication that was meant for you may have a negative impact on them. The other person may have a medication allergy that you don’t know about. They may be taking a medication or supplement that has a serious interaction with the drug you are offering to share with them. So, just don’t give someone else your prescriptions. It can do more harm than good.
“I don’t feel any different when I take my medication, therefore it’s not important for me to take it every day.”
Surprisingly, this is something that patients often say. Not all medications will make you feel differently, but that does not mean that they are not working. Always take your medication as instructed, unless your doctor tells you otherwise. For example, it is important to always take your blood pressure or cholesterol medication so that those conditions do not get any worse – but you more than likely will not notice any changes in the way you feel while taking them.
“The bathroom cabinet is the safest place for my medication to be stored.”
We’ve all seen the medicine cabinet in the bathroom. We think this is the safest place to keep medications away from small children or pets. We think this is the most convenient place to store them, because it’s easier to remember to take them when they are in the room where we begin and end our days. In reality, the bathroom storage cabinet may not be safe at all. Hot steam from the shower can actually decrease your medication’s efficacy, meaning they may not work the way they are supposed to if they are not kept in the correct temperature conditions. Instead, keep medication in a kitchen pantry or cabinet, or maybe on a night table.
“Taking birth control pills and antibiotics together will reduce the birth control’s efficacy.”
Common misconception. There is only one antibiotic that renders the pill to be less effective, and this is rifampin.
“Everyone who works in a pharmacy is qualified to answer my questions.”
There are many different employees that work behind a pharmacy counter – pharmacy interns who are in pharmacy school, pharmacy technicians who have completed a certification program to work in a pharmacy, and of course the pharmacist. I would advise against asking just anyone behind the pharmacy counter about your medication questions. The most trusted source is the pharmacist, for all questions. I have personally seen some pharmacy technicians trying to answer questions way out of their realm of knowledge, and sending patients away with false information and wrong recommendations. This is not to say that all pharmacy technicians don’t know what they are talking about – this isn’t true at all. Just be wary of who you are getting information from, and if you need further information or clarification, don’t hesitate to ask the pharmacist. It is your health, or your loved one’s health we are talking about here!
Thanks for reading! I hope I was able to pass some useful information along to our readers!
Until next time,