Things to Consider Before You Fill Your Prescription

December 14, 2022 | Tags: Healthy Outlooks

 Prescription medications are powerful tools that can vastly improve our health, but only when they’re used responsibly. 

Choosing the Right Prescription Drugs for You

Before you head to the doctor, it’s important to let go of any preconceived notions about which medications might be a good fit. With an endless stream of prescription drug commercials, it’s easy to get lost in all the information. However, you and your primary care provider should work together when choosing your prescriptions, according to Marko Blagojevic, a pharmacist and Director of Pharmacy at Medical Mutual.

“In many other countries, drug manufacturers are not allowed to advertise directly to consumers, and there’s a reason for that — avoiding outside influence and making sure to focus on the drug that is clinically best for you,” he said.

Prescription Drug Alternatives

Sometimes a prescription might not even be the answer, Blagojevic added.

“Don’t expect to get an antibiotic prescription every time you have a cough or are sick,” he said. “If your illness is viral, which it commonly is, an antibiotic can do more harm than good, causing bacterial resistance so that when you really need an antibiotic it may not help.”

Another common scenario is pain management. If your healthcare provider is considering prescribing an opioid, it’s worth asking about non-pharmacological or non-opioid options.

“Opioids have a very high risk of addiction, which can occur even with short use,” Blagojevic said. “Ask about things like physical therapy, acupuncture or other medications that are safer alternatives.”

Questions for Your Doctor

Once your doctor has identified the right prescription, Blagojevic has five questions that he recommends patients ask their provider.

  1. What is this medicine for?
  2. How do I take this, and what do I do if I miss a dose?
  3. What kind of follow up is needed — tests, monitoring or dosage adjustments?
  4. Are there any side effects or reactions I should watch for?
  5. Are there any generic or lower-cost alternatives available?

“Be an active participant in your drug therapy and ask lots of questions,” said Blagojevic.

Stay Organized and Safe

Both the prescriber and pharmacist should check how all of your medications and supplements might interact. 

“Ask your pharmacist before starting any over-the-counter drugs or supplements, because these may interact with prescription drugs, too,” Blagojevic said.

Once your prescriptions are set, use a notebook or smartphone app to track each medication, including its purpose, how to take it and any possible reactions. Medical Mutual offers a convenient medication list template for you to print, fill out and save.

Look at your labels. Some prescription vials include a description of what the medication looks like. Make sure you can identify your medication and add those details to your notes. If you ever have a question, don’t hesitate to ask your pharmacist.

Once you’re organized, consistently take each dose as prescribed. Smartphone apps and pill boxes can all help you remember when to take your medication.

Consider using mail order. By using your home delivery pharmacy, you can save money and have your medications conveniently delivered right to your door. Some medications may also qualify for automatic refill options to save you time and help you remember to take your medication regularly.

Looking for More Health and Wellness Information?

Visit our blog feed for preventive care tips, wellness topics, stories from the community and more.