In our fast-paced digital world, the opportunity for meaningful face-to-face interaction still does exist and perhaps at an unlikely place, the pharmacy.

Pharmacies are generally busy places that appear to be best to say as little as possible and to get your business done and get out of there, but maybe lingering for just a few moments will help once you are home.

Most pharmacists choose their careers not because of years of dealing with restrictive insurance plans, or daily battling the seemingly insurmountable onslaught of prescriptions, but because they like people and they like to help people become healthier. Many pharmacists participate in special programs that help their customers become the best they can be by offering weight-loss programs, smoking cessation, cardiac health, diabetes care or lung care, but these are just avenues to open that channel of communication that lets them do the daily job of increasing their customer’s medication experience and overall wellness.

You may have heard these words at the pharmacy counter, “The pharmacist is going to come down and visit with you about your prescription”. Great, you think, more waiting, but your pharmacist wants to ensure that you understand at least a few details about your medication. Many people have much experience with their current medication or disease condition and could teach a class of their peers with their own knowledge. Your pharmacist not only knows and appreciates this, but they want to support this knowledge with any addition information they can. Mostly, the pharmacist will concentrate on new medication or changes to your current medication. That is why you should look carefully at your medication before you leave the pharmacy. Read the instructions to ensure you understand and no changes have occurred, even on refills. Check the medication for the same size, color and shape that you are used to getting. Pharmacies would love to never change the manufacturer of your medications — it would solve many of their problems — but they are at the mercy of drug wholesalers and manufactures to maintain their inventory to have adequate supplies of medication to serve the population of customers. If anything does not look right, ask!

The pharmacist is always willing to talk. Even if busy, they are willing. Hang on a few minutes, and they will gladly be there to talk to you.

One area that most pharmacists are particularly interested in ensuring a complete understanding is medication use in children. Common question areas include the following:

Does this medicine need special storage (for example, at room temperature or in a refrigerator)?

How many times a day should it be given? Should it be given with food? Without food?

Should my child avoid some foods (like dairy products) when taking this medicine?

Are there any side effects that I should look for? What should I do if I see any?

Should my child take special precautions, such as avoiding sun exposure, when taking this medicine?

What should I do if my child skips a dose?

Is it OK to cut pills in half or crush them to mix into foods?

Will this medicine conflict with my child's other medicines, including over-the-counter medicines and alternative treatment such as herbal remedies?

Not only are these good questions, but it is also important that your children understand their medication and how to use it.

A study from the UK states that “Although children take responsibility for taking their medication at different ages, involving parents, and where possible children, in decision making is key to medicine optimization.”

The conclusion here is that many children who take medication regularly or even periodically can be included in their medication process. Which brings up the question of who should the pharmacist be talking to? At Len’s Drug, the pharmacists love to speak directly to the child, if possible, during a medication consultation. The child will take much more ownership of their medication if the information is given directly to them. Therefore, although communicating with parents is essential, where appropriate, we believe that children should also be involved in discussions about their medications.

If more questions are thought of once you are home, always feel free to call the pharmacist to make sure all your questions are answered as best as they can. The pharmacist really does want to make sure you have the information you need, both written and verbal.

As pharmacists, we also offer these general tips about your medication:

• Do not keep medicine in the medicine cabinet! The medicine cabinet in a steamy, moist bathroom is not the best place to keep any medicine — prescription or otherwise. The room's moisture can make medicines less potent. It's best to keep medicines in a hall closet or on a high shelf in the kitchen.

• Remember to keep prescription and nonprescription medicines out of the reach of children.

• Never repackage medicines. Keep them in their original childproof containers so you'll have the expiration date and instructions on hand.

• Toss out medicines when they have expired (usually one year for pills or sooner for liquids — check the prescription label for the expiration date) or the doctor has told you that your child should stop taking them.

• Most liquid medicines are now flavored, but some might taste bad to a young child. Some can be mixed with other flavors or foods to encourage kids to take the entire dose. Check with your pharmacist to see what would work best with which drug.

• When giving liquid medicine, use a medicine syringe or spoon (not a household spoon) to make sure your child gets the exact amount prescribed. Len’s Drug has complimentary dosage spoons and droppers available.

• If your child takes the wrong dosage, call the pharmacist or doctor right away and follow the instructions.

• If medicines need to be refrigerated, keep them cool while traveling. Freezer packs in coolers work fine. If you can, take the entire medicine bottle. That way, you won't forget the prescription dosage and, if something happens to the medicine, you can get a refill.

Your pharmacist staff at Len’s Drug strives to be available for your every need.

Call us anytime with questions at 541-575-0629.

Tilli Bjornberg, PharmD/MBA Pharmacy Manager

Greg Armstrong, BPharm,

Carl Amstad, BPharm

Tracie Unterwegner, BPharm

Wendy Springer, BPharm

Greg Armstrong is a registered pharmacist at Len's Drug in John Day with a Bachelor of Pharmacy degree.

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