Pharmacists are your last line of defense and easiest access to health information.

A study in Gallup’s annual Honesty and Ethics survey showed that pharmacists are among the most trusted health care providers. With 93 percent of Americans living within five miles of a pharmacy, pharmacists are also one of the most easily accessible health care providers. With this in mind, there is some information that is important to share with pharmacists so they can provide the best care for their patients.

Generic or name brand?

Your pharmacist can advise you if you prefer a name-brand medication over a generic one. Most prescriptions are generically filled unless brand is specified by the doctor or requested by the patient. Generic medications go through rigorous testing, just like the name-brand drugs, ensuring the integrity of the medication is intact.

Also, it is important to let us know if you prefer a 30-, 60- or 90-day supply of maintenance medication. Some insurance plans reduce a copay when getting a 90-day supply. It is also important to express concerns to your pharmacist if your medication is too expensive. In most cases, they can contact your prescriber and have your medication changed to a lower cost alternative drug.

It is always important to make sure the pharmacist has a list of your allergies on file to cross check with the medications they are dispensing. Be sure to update allergies with your pharmacist periodically, especially when you have a new adverse reaction to a medication. Often, patients will call their doctor to have a medication changed after they experience an adverse reaction. However, they forget to also let their pharmacist know about the reaction so the pharmacist can document and update the patient’s profile.

Talk to your pharmacist if you have a hard time swallowing pills; they can let you know if your medication formulation can be safely halved or crushed. They will also be familiar with alternatives that can aid in medication compliance. In addition, let them know if you have trouble opening bottles. Non-childproof caps are available and can be notated on your pro le once you sign a yearly waiver requesting your prescriptions to be dispensed in such containers.

When requesting refills on your prescriptions, make sure your pharmacist has the correct doctor’s information, especially if it has changed from the last time your prescription was dispensed. This will decrease the time it takes to have your prescription renewed. Also, some doctor’s offices charge a fee for re lls requested over the phone. Be sure and let them know if your doctor charges a fee and if you do not want the pharmacist to contact them.

The pharmacist is the last line of defense between you and your medication. The more information you provide to them the more prepared your pharmacist is to dispense medications catered to your medical and financial needs.

Do you use multiple pharmacies?

It is important to have all medications filled at one pharmacy. Using multiple pharmacies increases the chance that important drug interactions can be missed. Be sure to share with the pharmacist any over-the-counter (OTC) medications, dietary supplements or herbal medications you take so the pharmacist can check for possible interactions.