December 4, 2020
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Know your pharmacist… Know your medicine as drug prices will jump in 2019

By: Julie Ann Soukoulis
January 4, 2019

Pharmacists are members of the health care team directly involved with patient care, but did you know that a pharmacist is one of the most underutilized medical professionals. “Information obtained as a result of a new law in California indicates that major drug makers are set to significantly increase prices for popular medications next year. The law requires pharmaceutical companies to notify state agencies of plans to raise the cost of a medication by more than 16 percent over two years. The companies planning on increasing prices in the new year include Novartis, Bayer, Amgen, GlaxoSmithKline, AstraZeneca, and Biogen. In total, 28 companies plan on prices increases substantial enough to trigger the required notification in California. In August, a number of drug manufacturers announced price freezes or a pull back on planned price increases in response to complaints from the president.” says Jack Craver of BenefitsPro.   

So, I asked geriatric pharmacist Dr. Sheryl Havermann to let us know what pharmacists want their patients to know.  

I’ve put together my list of the five things that your pharmacist wants you to know. This list applies to you as a patient, and also to you as a caregiver, whether that role is the caregiver of a child or an elderly adult.  

Know your meds!  

Keep a list of medications for all members of your family. It’s great to have an awesome Excel spreadsheet with all necessary data, but a simple list saved in your phone is equally as good. People seldom leave home without their smartphone anymore, so a list saved within the phone is both practical and available in the event of an emergency, or a medical appointment that you didn’t have time to prepare for. Ultimately, it may become more useful than the beautiful spreadsheet in your home office! There are wallet size cards you can carry if your loved one doesn’t carry a smartphone- if you require one, call my office, we would be happy to mail you out one.

This list should include, at a minimum, the name of the medication, the strength (dosage) and how often it is taken.  

Know the indication for every medication taken.

Many medications serve multiple purposes. A drug that is used to lower blood pressure may also be used for its renal protective effects in a patient with diabetes. If your physician hasn’t told you why you’re prescribed the medicine, don’t be afraid to ask. Nobody wants their medical team to assume the indication!  

Know the goal of therapy  

By becoming aware of treatment goals, you become an active participant in the health care of yourself or those you’re caring for. Once the goals are known and understood, it will be much easier to determine when the medications should be permanently stopped or changed and even if they are effective.  

Challenge yourself to identify at least three side effects of the medication to watch for.  

Every medication that is consumed has some sort of side effect. It’s important to know what some of the side effects are, so that your healthcare team, which includes you, can decide if the benefits are greater than the potential risks. Simply knowing what to be watching for and speaking up when you experience a side effect will allow conversations about how to address/minimize them happen.  

Talk to your pharmacist!  

Utilize your pharmacist for the health care expert that they are. Discuss any concerns that you have regarding your medicine or your condition. Topics such as medication costs, side effects, and even pill size are frequently discussed. The pharmacist is a great resource for practical tips on how to take difficult medications or potential cost savings medication alternatives and/or programs that can assist with medication costs. In my option your local pharmacist is one of the most underutilized medical resources out there, they are there to help you!  

Wishing each of you good health and a joyous New Year as we welcome in 2019!  

Julie Ann Soukoulis is the owner of Home Instead Senior care office in Rohnert Park, mother of two and passionate about healthy living at all ages. Having cared for her own two parents, she understands your struggles and aims, through her website, to educate and encourage seniors & caregivers. Have a caregiving or aging concern?  She’d love to hear from you at 586-1516 anytime.