Getting the Pharmacy Services You Deserve: Fact Sheet

This Fact Sheet accompanies the Getting the Pharmacy Services You Deserve class in the classroom.

Why is it important to get the pharmacy services you deserve?

Good pharmacy services:

You should choose your pharmacist as carefully as you choose a physician.

Thousands of people every year end up in the hospital, fail to get better, and spend more money than they should because their meds were not managed properly.

What kind of pharmacy should you use?

We know from many customer surveys that patients choose their pharmacy based on convenience and price of the medications. The price of medications can vary widely and change over time, so it requires constant checking, if you are paying cash, for the best deal. If you have prescription coverage, sometimes, mail order may cost less because they will fill a 90 day quantity, for one co-pay, compared to the 30 day quantity at your neighborhood retail store.

We have chosen to categorize pharmacies as either face to face, walk-in-the store, or at a distance, receive prescriptions by mail. The choice of which pharmacy best meets your needs depends on what you value the most about getting your medications and what your prescription benefit will provide coverage. The list below is an attempt to provide a way to review what might be important to you. This does not imply one is better than another.

  Face-to-face
Local walk-in or drive-thru pharmacies
At a distance
Online pharmacy and mail order
Advantages
  • Face-to-face contact with a pharmacist. Many of us do best when we are in direct contact with the person we need to talk to
  • Easier to develop a trusting relationship face to face.
  • Ability to purchase other products including medical aids in store
  • Drive-thru window for convenience.
  • When you need your medications the same day.
  • Many retail pharmacies offer a combination of face-to-face, telephone, online, and mail order services
  • Medications delivered, by mail, directly to your home
  • Refills can be sent automatically
  • Receive refill reminders by phone or e-mail
  • Telephone or e-mail may allow you to communicate things or ask questions that would be too difficult in person
  • Online ordering and price checking
  • Ask questions using e-mail 24 hrs a day
Disadvantages
  • Getting to the store. Caregiver circumstances may make it difficult to pick-up medications.
  • Privacy. Are you reluctant to talk about your problems in such a public area?
  • Uncomfortable waiting areas
  • Long waits for prescriptions to be filled or waited on.
  • Cannot get medications same day
  • Have to order refills more days in advance of running out.
  • Requires communicating by phone or email about health issues
  • Watch for unlicensed, unregulated pharmacies online (See VIPPS how to identify online pharmacies that meet standards below)
  • Prescription medications left in your mailbox or outside your door.

On Line Pharmacies: Do they meet the same standards as your corner drugstore?

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Verified Internet Pharmacy Practice Sites™ (VIPPS ®) Seal

The National Association of Boards of Pharmacy (NABP) created the Verified Internet Pharmacy Practice Sites™ (VIPPS®) program and the VIPPS seal of approval, right, identifies to the public those online pharmacy practice sites that are appropriately licensed, are legitimately operating via the Internet, and that have successfully completed a rigorous review and inspection.

The NABP website ( www.nabp.net/vipps/ ) lists VIPPS verified online pharmacies.

Finding your personal pharmacist

Having a trusting relationship with any health care provider is an essential part of the care process. Most of us must feel valued and listened to before we can share the kind personal information, that may be required to provide care. The pharmacist you choose can provide evidence they deserve to be trusted by the following actions:

Pharmacists are trained and able to serve as medication use specialists

Expect your pharmacist to do more than dispense the medication accurately

Pharmacists make medication therapy safer

Your pharmacist should explain the following about EACH medication:

  1. Purpose
  2. When and how medications should be given, for how long
    • Taking some Alzheimer’s medications with food helps to reduce the side effects
  3. How to recognize likely side effects, what to do if they occur
    • Many Alzheimer’s medications can cause upset stomach and diarrhea. These side effects may go away after the first week and stopping the medication may not be necessary.
  4. How to take with other medications, over-the-counter, and herbal supplements
    • Benadryl, found in many over-the-counter cough and cold medicine and sleep aids, can worsen Alzheimer’s
  5. Food, drink, and activities that should be avoided
  6. When you should see an improvement and recognize when it is time to try something else

Expect written information about your medications that is clear and readable. Have the pharmacist review these sheets and highlight the parts that are important for you and your loved one.

Making Medication Use Better

Expect the pharmacist to ask you questions on a regular basis to see if the medication is working and if there are problems that he/she can help solve

Expect your pharmacist to work with you and your doctor(s) to help manage your medications

Getting the most for your money

Buy in larger quantities. You may be able to reduce the amount of money you spend per dose of medication.

Generics. Ask your pharmacist for generic versions of your medications. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) tests generic medications and judges them to be equivalent to the brand-name product. While there are no generic forms of most Alzheimer’s medications, your other medications may be available in generic.

Safety Tablet Cutter

Splitting tablets of a higher dosage. Always consult with your pharmacist before deciding to split your pills. Not all tablets are meant to be split. There are special pill cutting devices that you can find in the pharmacy or online.

Pharmaceutical company programs. Makers of medications give discounts on Alzheimer’s and other medications for people who qualify. You can find specific programs at the following pharmaceutical industry website: Partnership for Prescription Assistance

Medicaid. People who meet certain income requirements may qualify for the state Medicaid program that helps pay for medications.
SHINE: Serving Health Insurance Needs of Elders
Centers of Medicare and Madicaid Services

Medicare discounts. Ask your pharmacist to help you with the new Medicare discount card programs.
www.medicare.gov

Your role

Speak up: The best help comes when your health care providers know exactly how the medication are being given and how the patient is responding.

Caregivers are partners with doctors, pharmacists, and the loved ones they care for. It is important to share information so that health care providers can make good medical decisions

 Caregivers should ask and understand the answers for the following questions:

Seek advice on over-the-counter medications.

Share information about diet, activites of daily living, and your schedule so that the pharmacist can customize his service to you and the patient

Do you have a question or complaint?

Questions or complaints about about pharmacy services and safety are received by the Florida State Pharmacy Board
http://www.doh.state.fl.us/pharmacy/

Consumer Information from the American Pharmacists Association (APhA)

www.pharmacyandyou.org

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College of Public Health and Health Professions, University of Florida