Top ten secrets you should know about visiting your pharmacy:

  1. The antibiotic you're about to get probably isn't right for you. As stated in the Chicago Sun-Times article (,CST-NWS-health09.article) half of the prescriptions written for us when we go to the doctor for colds are … worthless. If you have a cold then you have a virus. An antibiotic does not work for a virus. Simple, huh? But you sure feel better getting that prescription don't you? Otherwise you'd think you spent a couple hours in the waiting room for nothing. But that's really what you did. Shame on the doc who is writing these things, increasing resistance in the bio world so that when we get one of those superbugs we won't have anything that works.
  2. When the doctor or nurse tells you what something costs … don't listen. They don't know what they're talking about.
  3. Despite the increasing use of PDAs (Personal Digital Assistants or small handheld computers) for writing prescriptions, which could tell the prescriber if something will be covered by your insurance, doctors simply don't know if you'll be able to fill what they are writing for. It's a crapshoot. Much of the time you'll get to the pharmacy (and how often does it turn out to be 6PM on a Friday or Saturday?) only to discover that your insurance thinks the drug is too expensive and so requires a prior authorization before they'll pay. Oh well.
  4. Having a prescription written for Over-The-Counter merchandise does not mean it will be covered by your insurance. Duh. They could write a prescription for socks but do you think BlueCross would pay for it?
  5. If you abuse narcotics your pharmacist knows it. You don't lie as well as you think you do. Tip-offs include notifying us as to how much you hate taking these things, and coming in about five seconds before we close (chances are that one is a forgery). And do you really think we haven't heard the one about spilling the Vicodin into the toilet? Another one is acting like we're long lost buddies. I'm not your buddy and I doubt I want to be.
  6. HIPAA privacy guidelines really are important and your privacy rights are guarded, but … your rudeness isn't. Come in and behave like a spoiled five-year-old and believe me, everybody in town will know it.
  7. Over-The-Counter stuff is pretty much worthless, at least at the dosing allowed (and many are dangerous and worthless at more than allowed dosing). Sudafed PE? Give it up. Simethicone for gas? Nope. Hydrocortisone cream? Too weak. Saw Palmetto? A big negatory. Weight loss products? Please. Children's cold syrups? Dangerous and proven ineffective anyway. Adult cough syrups? Not really dangerous, but still ineffective: honey works better. Pretty much everything in a pharmacy that really worked could be stocked on one four-foot shelf.
  8. The six years of pharmacy school are wasted. All the studying about M of A's (Mechanism of actions … usually unknown anyway), organic chemistry, medicinal chemistry, therapeutics, and all that, boil down to chasing prior authorizations and billing insurances. And ringing out customers at the cash register.
  9. Yes, sometimes pills drop onto the floor and yes we give them to you. Shocking, yes! Well, not really. Nothing is sterile you know.
  10. Pharmacist really can be trusted. I've never met a bunch of people more willing to help others at no expense to them than pharmacists. They'll give you free advice, free medicine (meaning they only charge you for the cost of the drugs, if that), a free medicine spoons. Who could ask for anything more (other than national health insurance)?
  11. Had to put this on in: Everyone—and I mean everyone—hates insurance.


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