Ask the Pharmacist: Medication Reviews

By Stefanie Black
Pharmacist and Travel Clinic Manager at Thrifty Foods Pharmacy

Some pharmacies will ask if you would be interested in a medication review. You may be thinking, how is this different than when I see my doctor or isn’t this automatically done.

A medication review is a one-on-one consultation with your pharmacist to discuss your prescription medications, as well as any non-prescription medications, vitamins and natural health products you may also be taking. The purpose is to improve your understanding of the medications, including what medications you are taking, why they are being taken, and how best to take them. Medication reviews may identify issues, such as an interaction between your medications or potential dosage changes. Your pharmacist may make recommendations on the way you take your medications in order to achieve the best result. Upon completion, you will be provided with a best possible medication history, which lists all of your medications which you can use as a reminder to take your medications or share it with your family doctor or other health care professional. If you do have an identified issue, the pharmacist may follow up on any changes that were made and discuss any difficulties implementing the changes or new plan.

If you have been prescribed at least five medications in the last six months and you are a BC resident, you may benefit from a medication review. If you have just been discharged from the hospital with a list of prescriptions to fill or need help learning how to administer insulin injections or use asthma inhalers for example, your community pharmacist may recommend the service. You do not need a doctor's referral to have a medication review, although your doctor may suggest it. You are more than welcome to request a review from your pharmacist. Eligible patients may receive one medication review every six months and they are provided free of charge.

Depending on the complexity of your medication regimen, they usually take anywhere from 20 to 60 minutes. Setting up a medication review in advance is also an excellent time to go through all your medicines at home and return any that you are no longer taking or have expired, including non-prescription medications and vitamins. Unused medications can pose a significant health, safety and environmental hazard when improperly stored or disposed of. Return them to your pharmacy free of charge to ensure proper disposal.

A medication review may be beneficial for you so feel free to ask next time you go to your pharmacy. Your pharmacist is a medication expert that can help you better understand your medications. When you know why you are taking them, when to take them, and how to best take them you make informed decisions and have greater ownership of your overall health.

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