Dear Readers,

As a pharmacist for 25 years, I've been asked some basic questions so today's column is devoted to giving you answers and ways to deal with various pharmacy concerns. In no particular order:

How can I get a lower dose of medication since the tablet or capsule only comes in one strength? Easy to solve! Call the pharmacist and ask if the capsule contents can be dumped into applesauce and if the answer is "yes" then dump out half (or a quarter) of the contents and recap it. Save the rest for later. Tablets that can be broken are easy to spot. You'll see a breakable "score" in the middle of the tablet. If the answer is "no, this medicine cannot be split or dumped," then have your doctor call it in to a compounding pharmacy. They prepare special dosages. For example, Viagra, the super sex pill is also used for cardiovascular conditions. Some men and women cannot take the full Viagra dosage, so the same active ingredient (sildenafil) is mixed into a liquid, allowing you to take lower doses or titrate up.

How do I deal with a rude clerk? Yep, this happens. I would certainly tell the store or pharmacy manager about your experience.

How do I deal with high prescription prices? There are pharmacy assistance programs that offer deep discounts to those who are in need, but the paperwork is extensive depending on the drug you are applying to. I recommend generics where available. If the medication you take does not come in generic, then switch to a sister drug in the same class that does come in generic. An example of this is with Abilify, the medication that had the highest amount of sales in the US, in 2013 hitting $6,460,215,394.00 (that's 6.5 billion US dollars!) and the generic isn't available until mid 2015. So if you can't afford Abilify, used for various emotional and psychiatric disorders, you should ask your doctor to rewrite the prescription for Risperdal. This drug has a similar effect on the body as Abilify, but it has a more affordable generic equivalent right now. These drugs are not exactly the same ingredient, but they have some similar effects on the brain.

What do I do if the pharmacy I go to is out of stock? If you can wait for them to order your medication I would do that. Ask if they can advance you 3 pills until it comes in. Many pharmacies will grant this so long as it is not a controlled (addictive) substance but the judgment for this is with each pharmacist. Computers today allow pharmacists to check another store's stock to see if another location has your drug. To prevent running out, keep a list of your meds and when they are due. You can also ask your pharmacist to automatically refill your medicine, and they will track when it comes due and automatically refill it.

Suzy Cohen

Suzy Cohen, is known as America’s Pharmacist. She has been a licensed pharmacist for 24 years and is a Functional Medicine practitioner. She’s the author of 6 books, including her most recent Amazon #1 best-seller, “Thyroid Healthy: Lose Weight, Look Beautiful and Live the Life You Imagine.”

She was the host of The Thyroid Summit which broadcast worldwide in June 2014. Suzy has been a syndicated columnist for 19 years reaching 20 million in circulation each week. She is a Huffington Post writer, and also hosts her own syndicated medical minute on TV. Suzy has been featured on The Dr OZ Show 6 times, and has appeared on The View, Good Morning America Health, The Doctors and hundreds of other networks. She is a member of The Institute of Functional Medicine, also the American Academy of Anti-Aging Medicine, The American Pharmacists Association and ILADS, the International Lyme and Associated Diseases Society. You can read free articles and receive your free newsletter by visiting her website, SuzyCohen.com

Books authored by Suzy Cohen include:

  • Thyroid Healthy
  • Headache Free
  • Drug Muggers
  • Diabetes Without Drugs
  • The 24-Hour Pharmacist
  • Eczema: Itchin’ for a Cure (kindle only)
  • Understanding Pancreatitis & Pancreatic Cancer (kindle only)