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Episode 4: Questions to Ask your Pharmacist

With medical breakthroughs and better nutrition, the life expectancy of Australians has increased by at least 30 years over the past century.

SBS Italian news, with a slow pace.

Italian

Grazie agli avanzamenti nel campo della medicina e ad una migliore alimentazione, l'aspettativa di vita degli australiani è aumentata di almeno 30 anni nell'ultimo secolo e si prevede che salga fino a 95 anni entro il 2055. Mentre si cercano modi per migliorare il proprio stato di salute, è importante conoscere i farmaci e gli integratori prescritti per evitare complicazioni. La prima cosa da fare è parlarne con il farmacista.

Una delle domande importanti da porre al farmacista quando viene prescritto un nuovo farmaco è "a cosa serve questo medicinale?". Ascoltiamo il dottor Shane Jackson, presidente della società farmaceutica nazionale australiana.

"Some people, as they get older, can take a large number of different medicines. Sometimes the brand can be confusing at times. There might be changes in brand because there are shortages and things like that. So, simple questions like: 'what this medicine is for?' is a really important thing to have."

La farmacista di Brisbane, Elsa Wang, è d'accordo e raccomanda caldamente di controllare le ricette con il farmacista per assicurarsi che venga prescritto il farmaco giusto.

"For example, I've got a customer, doctor accidentally prescribed an inhaler but it was a nasal spray that the doctor intended to prescribe."

Ciò è particolarmente rilevante per i pazienti che hanno visto medici diversi o acquistano prodotti in farmacie diverse.

"Different pharmacies use the different pharmacy brands. When they bring back home, they just see the packaging, even though it's the same generic name, but then as people from the non-English speaking background, they might not realise that."

Vale anche la pena chiedere al farmacista se c'è stato un cambiamento con i farmaci. In caso di dubbi, il farmacista può sempre contattare medico.

Il dottor Jackson incoraggia le persone a porre domande proattive al proprio medico o al farmacista. Tali domande potrebbero anche comprendere cosa aspettarsi dall'assunzione di un determinato farmaco.

"So, you know, if it's an antibiotic from an infection, when should I start to improve? If a medicine is used for blood pressure, then you should expect better blood pressure control, but some people, for example, if they've got high blood pressure, might be having headaches, so you'd expect those sorts of things to go away. So, people need to know what to expect from a beneficial point of view with their medicines."

Il Dr Jackson afferma che mentre i farmaci in Australia subiscono una rigida serie di controlli e sono generalmente sicuri da usare, è sempre meglio chiedere al farmacista quali sono i possibili effetti collaterali.

Inoltre, ogni volta che si comincia ad assumere un nuovo farmaco, è meglio chiedere: "questo medicinale interagirà con uno degli altri farmaci che assumo e potrebbe causare un problema?".

Si può anche chiedere al farmacista se ci sono misure particolari per minimizzare gli effetti collaterali.

"Usually, we recommended that them to take the medications with food to minimise the stomach upset. It is also important to ask the pharmacist regarding how long should they have the medication? How long the treatment duration should be for?"

Occorre anche sapere che cosa fare se ci si dimentica di assumere un farmaco

"If somebody misses a medicine, most of the time, if you're only missing a dose by about one or two hours, you can just take that dose when you remember, but some medicines need to be taken really quite diligently at the specified time. So, if somebody's unsure, they need to call their pharmacist, and say, 'okay, I've forgotten to take this, and it might have been the previous day, and it's not ideal, but most of the time, you just start with the next day's tablet."

Elsa Wang sottolinea che molti dei suoi clienti nati all'estero tendono a evitare di chiamare la farmacia per chiarimenti.

"I do find people from non-English speaking background, they don't do that as often. I think it might be because with the language barrier, it might keep them away from asking the pharmacist question, but I do encourage them to ask questions, because it might help them to avoid potential side effects or potential drug misuse."

English

With medical breakthroughs and better nutrition, the life expectancy of Australians has increased by at least 30 years over the past century.

And it's expected to rise to 95 years by 2055.

As people seek ways to improve their health, it is important to understand the prescribed medications and supplements to avoid complications.

You can start by asking your pharmacist questions.

One of the important questions to ask your pharmacist when you're prescribed with a new medicine is "what is this medicine for?".

Pharmaceutical Society of Australia's national president Dr Shane Jackson explains.

"Some people, as they get older, can take a large number of different medicines. Sometimes the brand can be confusing at times. There might be changes in brand because there are shortages and things like that. So, simple questions like: 'what this medicine is for?' is a really important thing to have."

Brisbane-based pharmacist Elsa Wang agrees.

She strongly recommends checking your script with the pharmacist to ensure you're prescribed with the right medication.

"For example, I've got a customer, doctor accidentally prescribed an inhaler but it was a nasal spray that the doctor intended to prescribe."

This is particularly relevant to patients who have been seeing different doctors or visiting various pharmacies.

"Different pharmacies use the different pharmacy brands. When they bring back home, they just see the packaging, even though it's the same generic name, but then as people from the non-English speaking background, they might not realise that."

It also pays to ask your pharmacist if there has been a change with your medication.

If unsure, the pharmacist can always double-check with your doctor.

Dr Jackson encourages people to proactively ask their doctor or pharmacist questions - that could also include understanding what to expect from taking a certain medicine.

"So, you know, if it's an antibiotic from an infection, when should I start to improve? If a medicine is used for blood pressure, then you should expect better blood pressure control, but some people, for example, if they've got high blood pressure, might be having headaches, so you'd expect those sorts of things to go away. So, people need to know what to expect from a beneficial point of view with their medicines."

Dr Jackson says that whilst medicines in Australia go through a robust testing process, and are generally safe to use, you should still ask your pharmacist about the possible side effects.

And whenever you start a new medicine, make sure to ask "will this medicine interact with any of my other medicines and cause a problem?".

You might also ask your pharmacist whether there are particular measures to minimise the side effects.

"Usually, we recommended that them to take the medications with food to minimise the stomach upset. It is also important to ask the pharmacist regarding how long should they have the medication? How long the treatment duration should be for?"

You should also know what to do if you happen to miss a dose.

"If somebody misses a medicine, most of the time, if you're only missing a dose by about one or two hours, you can just take that dose when you remember, but some medicines need to be taken really quite diligently at the specified time. So, if somebody's unsure, they need to call their pharmacist, and say, 'okay, I've forgotten to take this, and it might have been the previous day, and it's not ideal, but most of the time, you just start with the next day's tablet."

Elsa Wang notices that many of her overseas-born customers tend to shy away from ringing the pharmacy for clarification.

"I do find people from non-English speaking background, they don't do that as often. I think it might be because with the language barrier, it might keep them away from asking the pharmacist question, but I do encourage them to ask questions, because it might help them to avoid potential side effects or potential drug misuse."

Report by Amy Chien Yu-Wang

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