Pharmacy Insider » Pharmacy Tricks and Tips » “The Pill Predicament: 6 Essential Questions to Raise About Your Drug Therapy.

“The Pill Predicament: 6 Essential Questions to Raise About Your Drug Therapy.


During my extensive experience in the field of community pharmacy, I have encountered numerous situations where I strongly believe that patients should ask important questions to ensure their well-being. Recognizing the significance of patient education and empowerment, I have decided to embark on a new endeavor: a series of blogs and reels aimed at addressing the crucial questions that patients should be aware of.

Through these blogs and reels, my goal is to provide valuable insights and guidance, shedding light on various aspects of healthcare, medication management, and overall well-being. I understand that navigating the world of pharmacy can sometimes be overwhelming, and patients may not always know what questions to ask. Therefore, I aim to bridge this gap by presenting the information in an accessible and engaging format.

Each blog post and reel will delve into a specific topic, exploring areas such as medication safety, potential side effects, drug interactions, proper storage and administration techniques, and understanding prescription labels. I will strive to break down complex medical jargon into simple terms, ensuring that patients can easily grasp the information and apply it to their own healthcare journeys.

Moreover, I will tackle broader issues surrounding healthcare, such as the importance of regular check-ups, preventive measures, and lifestyle modifications that can positively impact one’s health. By addressing these topics, I aim to foster a proactive approach to healthcare, encouraging patients to take an active role in managing their well-being and making informed decisions.

Through the medium of blogs, I will provide detailed explanations and descriptions of key concepts, backed by evidence-based information and reliable sources. The reels, on the other hand, will be visually engaging, concise videos that deliver bite-sized pieces of information, making it easy for patients to consume and retain the knowledge.

By encouraging patients to question and engage with their healthcare providers, I hope to empower them to take ownership of their health and make informed decisions. My ultimate aim is to contribute to a more informed and health-conscious society, where patients are equipped with the necessary knowledge to advocate for their own well-being.

I look forward to embarking on this exciting journey of sharing knowledge and addressing important questions in the realm of community pharmacy. Together, let us pave the way for a healthier and more educated patient population.

Here are my top 6 for today-  Things you should question!

1.Caution when treating drug side effects with more even more drugs

Sometimes, side effects from a medication can be mistaken for a new medical condition, leading doctors to prescribe more medications. This situation, known as a prescribing cascade, can lead to an increase in medication interactions, side effects, and poor adherence. It’s important for patients and health practitioners to consider if a new symptom might be a side effect from a current medication before prescribing additional drugs.

2.Avoid over-the-counter codeine for pain management:

Over-the-counter medications that contain codeine (example : Tylenol no 1 contains 8mg of codeine) are not recommended for managing acute or chronic pain. Codeine is an addictive opioid and can lead to misuse, harsh constipation and dependence. Also, over-the-counter codeine is often combined with non-opioid painkillers ( ex: acetaminophen), which can result in serious side effects and liver damage if taken in high doses.

3. Only start or renew medication if it’s beneficial

It’s crucial to only start or renew a medication if there’s a valid reason and a reasonable expectation of benefit for the patient. Many people, especially seniors, are on multiple medications, which can increase the risk of adverse reactions and hospitalizations.   Let’s take the time to review the sometimes long list of medication at each renewal and see if there is a way to decrease a dose, change a medication or completely stop.  We sometimes get so caught up on just renewing that we forget to question why.

4. Regularly review long-term proton pump inhibitor (PPI) therapy:

A typical example (from point 3 above) would be the renewal of Proton pump inhibitors (ex: esomeprazole, pantoprazole, the “zoles”), used for gastrointestinal symptoms, should not be used long-term without attempts to stop or reduce the therapy at least once a year. Prolonged use of PPIs can lead to a number of adverse effects, such as increased risk of bone fractures, infections, and deficiencies in certain nutrients.  Please consider a Calcium plus D supplement if you must continue on these drugs.

5. Think twice before using antipsychotics for insomnia

The use of certain antipsychotics for insomnia has increased dramatically, despite a lack of evidence for their effectiveness. They also come with potential side effects, such as weight gain and metabolic disorders. It’s recommended to explore other treatments for insomnia before resorting to antipsychotics.

6. Plan for benzodiazepine discontinuation when starting treatment:

Benzodiazepines are commonly used for anxiety disorders and insomnia, but they come with risks, especially for older adults. Examples of Benzodiazepines include lorazepam (Ativan) and clonazepam  ( the “zepams”).

Long-term use can lead to dependence and other adverse effects. It’s advised to have a plan for discontinuing benzodiazepines when starting treatment, and to explore other treatment options before prescribing these medications.

Remember, it’s always important to consult with your healthcare provider before making any changes to your medication regimen.

MisterPharmacist™ can help you make a more informed decision that you can then bring back to your doctor for further discussion!  and don’t forget, always reach out with your Minor Ailment Questions!

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