Can A Pharmacist Override A Doctors Prescription
You’re out shopping at the mall when it dawns on you that you’ve forgotten to take your meds. You rush back home, but as you look in your medicine cabinet you realize you don’t even know what most of those pills do. Then you remember how much you hated pill bottles with multiple compartments — one compartment for each medication — so you decide to stick with just two, instead.
Your hand drifts toward the white box on top of the shelf labeled “Painkillers.” The label inside tells you they contain codeine, hydrocodone and acetaminophen, which you already know by heart because you read labels all day long. But this particular bottle has been sitting there for years without any drugs being added to it. Why? Because the pharmacy switched pharmacies several months ago and now the new pharmacy doesn’t stock that brand of painkiller anymore. Instead, you will be getting something called Vicodin 5/500mg tablets. How can the same pill come in different shapes, sizes and colors? In fact, the only difference between them may be their names!
The next time you head to the grocery store for more aspirin, ask yourself if you would prefer to get a pink-boxed 100 count bottle of Aspirin or a green-labeled 50 count bottle of Extra Strength Bayer Aspirin. There isn’t really a huge difference between the two brands, other than size (and color). However, some people might think the larger bottle contains more aspirin per tablet, while others may believe the smaller bottle provides better value since it costs less per pill.
When doctors prescribe medications, they typically use generic terms like Prozac® or Lipitor®, but sometimes they write brand name names such as Zocor™, Neurontin®, Nexium®, etc., or refer to multiple products using numbers. For example, Dr. Smith prescribes patients a low dose combination product containing 20 milligrams of Atorvastatin calcium and 80 mg of Fluvastatin sodium. Most pharmacists would call this medication Lescol. You’ll also see references to trade names that aren’t actually companies; these include Mylanta®, Diabeta®, Propulsid®, and Tums Plus®. These are all generic names used by pharmaceutical manufacturers to describe similar products.
Because many physicians are trained to prescribe brand-name medications rather than generics, it’s possible that you could receive a prescription from your doctor that reads: “Call me when you get [brand name] [prescribed drug].” If you were to go ahead and fill that prescription at the pharmacy, chances are good that you’d end up with the wrong medication, especially if you didn’t pay attention to the instructions on the label. That’s because although a pharmacist may work in a retail setting, he or she is still an employee who works for the company that makes the drug. And employees are required to follow directions exactly, including dosage amounts, warnings and precautions, and contraindications. So no matter how familiar you are with a certain medication, a pharmacist must always consult a physician before dispensing it.
In order to keep customers happy and safe, pharmacies generally require prescriptions to be filled according to the manufacturer’s guidelines. This is where things can get tricky, though. Let’s say you’re going to pick up your new birth control prescription, but you forgot to put down the phone number of your gynecologist. Your pharmacist will be able to determine whether the medication is appropriate for you based on the information provided in the physician’s written prescription, but he or she won’t be allowed to make any changes.
If you want to talk to your doctor about whether you need a certain medication, you can either call his or her office directly or schedule an appointment online through your insurance provider. Many insurance plans offer 24-hour customer service lines that allow you to speak to a real person immediately regarding your concerns.
Even if you’re lucky enough to live near a community college or university, you probably haven’t studied pharmacology yet. If you feel lost after reading this article, try looking online for additional resources. Here are a few websites that provide useful information about common medications and conditions:
Mayo Clinic – Drug Information
WebMD – Drugs & Conditions
MedlinePlus – Topic Overviews
Wikipedia – List of Medicines
Sources: Mayo Clinic – Drug Information; WebMD – Drugs & Conditions; MedlinePlus – Topic Overviews; Wikipedia – List of Medicines
Curious about what happens behind the scenes at your local pharmacy? Visit our blog post here.
Although it may seem confusing, the process of filling a prescription is pretty straightforward. First, we’ll explain what happens during the initial consultation with your doctor. When you visit a health care professional, he or she will likely ask questions to gather patient history and medical data. From there, the doctor will discuss treatment options along with risks and benefits associated with each option. He or she will then write a prescription for whatever specific condition you have.
Next, that prescription will be sent to a licensed pharmacist who reviews your complete medical record. Once all the necessary information is available, the pharmacist will compare your current medications against the ones listed on the prescription. Since the pharmacist needs to stay within the parameters set forth by the manufacturer, he or she can only dispense medications that have been approved for sale in the United States. This means that every prescription must first undergo rigorous testing to ensure safety, effectiveness and quality control before it’s ready for distribution.
After determining that everything looks OK, the pharmacist will review your medical history again to check for potential interactions among medications you may currently be taking. This step ensures that nothing adverse affects the way another medication functions or interacts with other medicines you might be taking. Once the pharmacist confirms that you’re eligible to receive the medication, he or she will prepare the prescription for printing. Printing prescriptions via computer requires special software that prints readable text that conforms to standards set by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA).
Once your doctor approves the prescription, you usually have three days to pick it up at the pharmacy. After receiving it, you’ll need to bring it to your regular pharmacy or mail it to the pharmacy of your choice. Some pharmacies will accept faxed copies of prescriptions, but they can’t guarantee that the original will arrive unaltered.
Now that you know how pharmacies operate, how does the Internet fit into the picture? Read on to learn about ordering prescriptions over the web.
Pharmacies aren’t the only places you can purchase prescription drugs. Stores such as CVS, Walgreens and Rite Aid carry a variety of branded and generic medications. Unlike big chains, however, independent pharmacies tend to specialize in one area of medicine, such as diabetes, women’s reproductive health or geriatrics. They often employ knowledgeable staff members who are highly skilled in treating specific ailments. Independent pharmacies also offer extended hours of operation and may be open weekends and holidays.
Online pharmacies differ from traditional brick-and-mortar stores in that they don’t exist in physical space. Rather, they function as virtual storefronts that sell prescription medications across state lines. Although these sites are regulated by states, federal laws dictate how they handle prescription orders. To comply with regulations, online pharmacies must hire registered nurses, pharmacists and technicians to oversee the handling of submitted orders.
One advantage of purchasing prescription medications online is that it saves money. By buying generic versions of expensive brand-named drugs, consumers save hundreds, even thousands, of dollars annually. Another benefit is convenience. With an online pharmacy, you can shop around the clock, seven days a week. All you need is access to a computer, broadband Internet connection and a reliable method of payment.
To buy prescription medications online, simply search for the pharmacy’s website under its own name. Or, enter the address of the location closest to you. Select the desired product category and click on the link that says “Prescriptions”. On the resulting page, click on the “Order Now” button and fill out the form. Don’t forget to include your credit card number, expiration date and billing address. Once you submit the request, it goes to a licensed technician who verifies your identity and checks to see if you qualify for the medication. If you meet the requirements, the system sends you an e-mail asking you to confirm your order. Within a couple business days, you’ll receive an email notification telling you that your order was placed successfully.
Now that you’re comfortable with the online transaction, let’s explore some of the reasons why you shouldn’t trust someone else to fill your prescription.
According to the National Center for Health Statistics, almost half of Americans aged 12 and older reported having taken a dietary supplement in 2007. Among adults age 18 to 24, that figure jumped to 70 percent. Unfortunately, only 13 percent of teens report ever consulting a doctor about supplements.
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