Department of Consumer Affairs Board of Pharmacy

Consumer Tips

Question Mark

GET THE ANSWERS

Talk with a pharmacist. Ask these questions about your medicines:

  1. What is the name of the medicine and what is it supposed to do?
  2. How and when do I take it and for how long?
  3. What do I do if I forget to take my medicine?
  4. Are there any side effects, and what do I do if they occur?
  5. Is there any written information available about the medicine?

 

Pill Bottle

HOW TO TAKE YOUR PAIN MEDICATIONS EFFECTIVELY AND SAFELY

Are you getting the pain relief you want?

  • If you are not getting pain relief or are having side effects that you cannot tolerate, call your doctor or pharmacist.
  • It is better to take your pain medication on a schedule if you are having constant pain. Do not wait until the pain is severe before taking your pain medication.

Pain Drugs

SIDE EFFECTS OF NARCOTIC PAIN RELIEVERS
What to watch for and how to decrease side effects

  1. Being sleepy, drowsy, dizzy or lightheaded is an expected side effect of narcotic pain relievers. The reaction is different for each person.
  2. Make sure you know how you react to this medicine before you drive, use machines, or do other jobs that require you to be alert and clearheaded.
  3. Do not drink alcohol while you are taking this medication.

These drugs may cause constipation. To prevent this from becoming a problem you can:

  1. Drink plenty of fluids
  2. Take over-the-counter (prescription not required) laxatives such as Senokot, Colace, and Milk of Magnesia if needed for constipation.
  3. If you have not had a bowel movement within three days after starting your pain medication, contact your doctor immediately.
  4. Your pain medication may also cause an upset stomach.


Seniors

OLDER ADULTS AND MEDICINES

Key factors contributing to the improper use of prescription medicines among older Americans include:

  1. Poor communication between older patients and health professionals;
  2. Taking several medicines at the same time, including prescription and nonprescription medicines;
  3. Seeing and receiving prescriptions from more than one health care provider;
  4. With advancing age, the body's response to medicine changes; and
  5. The inability to take the medication as prescribed.

Adults involved in the care of older parents should know:

  1. What medicines their parents take and for what conditions;
  2. How often are they supposed to take their medicines;
  3. Whether their parents feel the medicine is helping; and
  4. If there are any problems with the medicine.
Older patients taking multiple medicines should ask their health care providers about having a medicine "check up." It can help uncover problems they may be having taking their medicines, and it's a good time for asking questions.

Years of training have made your pharmacist the health professional best qualified to help you understand the proper use of prescription and nonprescription drugs. Talk to your pharmacist!

 

Kids

YOUR CHILD'S MEDICATION

Four common mistakes children make with medicines are:

  1. Stopping too soon.
  2. Taking too little.
  3. Taking too much.
  4. Refusing to take the medicine.

Parents should know the following things about the medicines their children take:

  • What condition the medicine is for, and what it is supposed to do;
  • How much to give;
  • If there are any side effects and what to do if they occur; and
  • What to do if a dose is missed.


Pharmacist
Does the pharmacist have to talk to the patient about prescription medication?

The pharmacist is required to talk to you about all new prescription medications that have not been provided to you before. You should know the answers to at least the following questions before taking prescription medications:

  1. What is the name of the medicine and what is it supposed to do?
  2. How and when do I take it and for how long?
  3. What do I do if I forget to take my medicine?
  4. Are there any side effects, and what do I do if they occur?
  5. Is there any written information available about the medicine?

Can a pharmacist refuse to fill my prescription?

Yes, a pharmacist in his or her professional judgment may refuse to fill a prescription.

Can the pharmacy refuse to take back my prescription medication?

Yes, the pharmacy is not required by law to take back prescriptions that have been dispensed.

Can the pharmacist give out my personal medical information?

California law places strict requirements on what information can be released. In most cases, the patient must approve release of any personal medical information.

Why does the pharmacy need my address, social security number, and date of birth?

This information is used to identify patients to avoid any error in dispensing medication to the wrong patient.