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Sep 28, 2017

Healthy Living: What You Should Ask Your Pharmacist

They are one of the key members of your healthcare team yet we very often simplify their role in our care. After seeing the doctor and getting your diagnosis; you’re typically directed to the pharmacy to pick up your medications. Despite common perception; these trained professionals are more than just drug dispensers, they are skilled in administering an important element in patient care. In honor of pharmacists’ week, healthy Living looks closer at this profession and discovers some of the questions you should be asking your pharmacists.


Marleni Cuellar, Reporting

Jeff Huang has been a filling prescriptions for patients at the Belize Medical Associates for over nine years.


Chung Yu (Jeff) Huang

Chung Yu (Jeff) Huang, Chief Pharmacist BMA

“I like dealing with the patients and educating them on the medication they are taking and what other problems that they have and allows them to come to the pharmacy.”


He is the hospital’s chief pharmacist and is currently enrolled in the first cohort of the Bachelor of Pharmacy program at the University of Belize.


Chung Yu (Jeff) Huang

“People like to think that pharmacists as drug dispenser like before we just followed doctor prescriptions and we give the amount of medications or pills the doctor order and then we don’t know any other information about the medicine. But pharmacists are actually professionals that deal with, a specialist in medication side effects and interactions and stuff; .not only counting pills behind that counter. Pharmacy is a profession that always takes more from us that we need to learn constantly because the medicine world is advancing every minute as we speak and it is always good to know more and educate ourselves to provide best care to our patients.”


Like all others in the profession, Huang explains that patients need to trust their pharmacists and be open to having honest discussions. He often finds that patients hold back very important questions.


Chung Yu (Jeff) Huang

“Either they come to ask for something over the counter or that they will ask the pharmacist for recommendations or they come with a prescription. And then we often find that patients come to the pharmacy just asking for prices; can I get a quotation for it. But it is very important that the patient asks the pharmacist to see whether there are alternative or generic products that are as good as the brand or comparable to the brand that are more affordable to them. They should ask the pharmacists what the medication is used for, most important, because sometimes they are not comfortable with asking the doctor questions that they have while they are in the doctor’s office. But it is always fine to ask the pharmacist to have a clear understand of what the medication is for and why it is important to take the medication prescribed by the doctor so that you may have the best outcome of the medication. They should also ask if there are any interactions or side effects that they should experience because sometimes patients take other medications apart from the one that the doctor’s prescribed. They should inform the pharmacist, even if it is herbal or over the counter drugs that they are on which might have interactions with the one that the doctor prescribes. Patients should ask the pharmacist what would happen if they miss a dose, especially medication that need to be taken on consecutive days and stuff such as antibiotics. People tend to Google the medication before they come to a pharmacy or before they go to a doctor. But they will see side effects on Google or on any particular medication and they are afraid to take them. But the percentage that Google or whatever information they provide is sometimes less than one percent. Less than one percent, it happens, but it doesn’t mean that it will definitely happen to you. And then always inform the doctor or pharmacist if they experience any side effects that are listed so that they can further recommendations or stuff from the doctor or pharmacist.”


In short, even if the answer feels obvious, don’t be afraid to ask about the drugs you are taking. Lastly, ask to see the pharmacist him or herself. Pharmacists are required by law to display their license on the wall of the pharmacy within clear view of customers. The bottom line, as medicine specialists, they are there to help not to judge but are reliant on you providing truthful information on your practices.

Viewers please note: This Internet newscast is a verbatim transcript of our evening television newscast. Where speakers use Kriol, we attempt to faithfully reproduce the quotes using a standard spelling system.

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