I recently started a new prescription. I had to take two pills every day, 12 hours apart. I figured that it would be easy to do. I would take one in the morning and the other twelve hours later. No problem for me!
During the third month of taking the new pill, I had missed taking two daily pills twice. Once, I fell asleep and woke up with the pill on my nightstand; the other time, I was in Phoenix and forgot about taking it. This was an oral medication prescribed by my neurologist. I called her, and she told me to just proceed to get back on the two-pills-a-day schedule.
Later that weekend, I overheard a woman in a grocery store checkout line tell her friend, “I have to eat soon and take a pill after that.” Her friend told her not to be so neurotic about the pill, just as long as she took it sometime, not even after food.
I asked Brad James, R.Ph. (Registered Pharmacist), a staff pharmacist at the Monroe Street Rite Aid store in Sylvania, why following the drug directions included on the drug vial or package is important. James commented, “Many medications can be taken at any time, but not all. For example, blood pressure pills are taken daily, usually in the morning at the same time. Skipping them might cause serious damage to a person’s internal organs. A worst-case scenario caused by not following the suggested directions could be that a person overdoses;
in most cases, not following medication or pill directions is not that severe, but it is better to follow directions.”
James explains that it is important to follow the doctor’s direction when taking medicine. We need to take the right dose at the right time and abide by any other instructions your doctor gives you. If a person needs to take a pill twice a day, some might take two pills right after each other. That might not be the best way since these pills are often time-release pills. It is better to take these12 hours apart so the drug works more efficiently. If a dose is missed, a person can try to take it as close to the scheduled time or even wait until the next day to get back on the 12-hour plan. When directions say take after a meal, it is because the drug works best after a meal so the stomach absorbs the medication well and is protected.
I believe our doctors’ and pharmacists’ directions are integral parts of taking our medications for better health management. They are great, knowledgeable resources and we need to ask their advice.
If I ever have questions about any prescription, I call my doctor or pharmacist. Pharmacists deal with people and medications every day, and they know their stuff. They have a broad understanding of different drug groups like statins and OTC (over-the-counter) pain and cold remedies, and they have a vast knowledge of other accurate and practical dosage advice.
I knew that when I get a prescription, it is important to follow the directions concerning the medication. I thought that it probably helped our medications to work effectively. Before the FDA approves a medication, they do years of trials testing the drug’s success on a specific symptom and its side effects. Their research includes directing the consumer on the best way to take their prescription so that the drug benefits are maximized.
We all know that prescription drugs are an important part of our healthcare. According to the Blue Cross and Blue Shield company, nearly three out of four people report that they do not always take their medications as directed. They go on to report that more than one-third of medicine-related hospitalizations are due to non-adherence (not taking their prescription drugs), which adds $290 billion in avoidable costs to the healthcare system annually.
Brad James clarified things for me and offered this piece of advice: “Each drug is prescribed by your doctor for a specific reason. If you are prescribed a drug, take it as directed so it can do what it’s supposed to do.”