Healthy Living gets medicated at the Pharmacy
Pharmacists are experts in medications. They offer advice on how to take the meds, what it will do for you or if there is any reaction to be expected. Their services are critical in ensuring that patients get the right medication for their symptoms. Meet Orissa Molina from Belize Medical Associates who says that non-compliance of the prescribed regime is one of the most issues with patients.
It is a common perception that a pharmacist spends most of his or her day counting and dispensing medications in a little room or at a local drug store. While this is one of the duties of this health professional, their role is far more complex. Registered Pharmacist, Orissa Molina has been in practice for over thirteen years and is the current pharmacy manager at Belize Medical associates she helps us to understand more about the role a pharmacist plays in your health care plan.
Orissa Molina, Registered Pharmacist
“Pharmacists are drug experts. We are trained in this field. So when we are dispensing medications to you, our responsibility is to advice you on how to take your medication, how they work, what side effects you can expect and how sticking to your treatment regimen would improve your quality of life and get you better at the end of the day.”
The pharmacist is typically the last person a patient comes in contact with following doctor visits and lab tests. Their advice and recommendations area reinforcement of the treatment plan prescribed by the doctors and is also a chance for patients to sneak in last minute concerns.
“A lot of times people want to know what they can take in their normal life along with their medications and one of the biggest questions is: “Can I drink with this particular medication.” Now I would never ever as a pharmacist advice you to drink with any medication at all—it doesn’t matter what type it is. And a lot of people look at you [and say], “I can’t drink? I’m going out for the weekend.” But you have to look at your priorities. If you are on a treatment regimen I would suggest that you take your medications; finish the course and then you can go back to your regular way of living”
But despite the recommendations of the doctors and the pharmacists, people still maintain poor practices when it comes to their treatment regimens. The most common bad practice: non compliance to prescriptions.
“What would happen if I don’t finish my treatment regimen? You know a lot of times you don’t get better, it gets worse. And then you wonder why. It’s because the minute you feel better, you stop. They figure I don’t need any more of this and I done feel better but that’s not the case. Medications run by course and that’s particularly for antibiotics or any anti-infective. They run over a course of time. So yes; at the third day you will start feeling better—that’s the idea—but that does not mean that you are totally or completely a hundred percent out of the woods. You need to finish your treatment regimen if it is a five days, if it’s a seven day, if it’s a ten day course. Finish it and what you are doing actually is preventing resistance from developing. When you don’t finish your treatment regimen especially with antibiotics you increase the chance of resistance and next time when you need that antibiotic, it won’t work for you.”
According to Orissa, this failure to adhere to medication is especially common with diabetic & hypertensive patients. Sharing medication is also a bad practice which they often encounter. This, of course, is an extension of the problem of not completing treatment. She advises patients that each treatment is individualized and should never be shared.
“We do have laws that govern us and in our laws it is stated that pharmacists are not licensed to prescribe. We can advice our patients; we know our limitations as to where to draw the line. People like to walk into the pharmacy and say I have such and such and I just need something to fix me up for the day. But there is only so much that a pharmacist can do. We cannot prescribe, we can only advice and dispense within confinements of the law.”
She urges that people should take the recommendations of their pharmacist seriously. While some warnings may seem logical: like no alcohol with your medication. Others like dairy & sun warnings serve a purpose as well.
“There are some medications that the calcium that is in the dairy would block the absorption of these medications and render them ineffective. So it’s like you’re taking nothing. For sunlight, there are medications that make your skin more susceptible to sunburn. We live in a tropical climate, we have sun most of the year and a lot of medications cause photosensitivity which means you are sensitive to sunlight. So if you take those and you go and bask in the sun and you go to the cayes, you might end up with a very bad sunburn. So when the pharmacist tells you with this medication, avoid sunlight, please adhere to it.”
“Know your pharmacist and always speak to a licensed pharmacist. Pharmacies and pharmacists, I think, are important parts of our healthcare system. A lot of people rely a lot on doctors and not downplaying doctors but I think we are their eyes and we play a very important role in assisting them to deliver good health care.”