By: Zahid Somani, Pharmacist-Owner
Let’s face it – being on medication is hard. Even basics like remembering to take your medications can sometimes feel overwhelming, let alone managing side effects, worrying about interactions with over-the-counter medications or new prescriptions. Finding a routine is a great first step, but there are ways to improve how you take your meds so you can feel better than ever.
For people living with HIV, I always recommend an in-depth consultation with your pharmacist, once-a-year, to review your medications. You’ll be able to talk through all your medications (including prescriptions, over-the-counter medications, supplements and recreational drugs) without feeling rushed. You can take some extra time to ask questions about anything you’re concerned about, and together, you and your pharmacist will come up with solutions and a plan to help make sure that you feel at your healthiest.
Checklist of common medication issues:
- Do you experience side-effects?
Most HIV medications are well tolerated and don’t have lasting side effects that affect your daily activities. However, if you have recently switched regimens, you may be in a bit of an adjustment period until you figure out how the new medication affects your body. Women also experience different side-effects than men. In many instances, a pharmacist can offer some simple tips, such as taking your medications at a different time, or more advanced solutions as needed, that can dramatically improve how you feel on your meds.
- Do you know if your HIV medications interact with other medications?
There are often other conditions in addition to HIV that people take medication for – heart disease, diabetes, hormone therapy, and over-the-counter medications for pain, coughs, colds, flu, digestion issues and more. You may have questions or concerns about interactions with other medications, that you haven’t asked about. A medication review with a pharmacist can offer alternatives if interactions exist, and give you overall peace of mind.
- Are you taking your medications at the right time?
It can be difficult to take your medications on time, even for as few as 2 or 3 medications daily. Your pharmacist can offer solutions such as apps, pill boxes or personalized pill packs to help you make sure you’re taking the right medications each day .
- Do you pick-up your prescriptions at different times during the month?
Patients who get their medications at different times each month sometimes run out of medications earlier than expected, or have too much left at the end of the month. They can be hard to keep track of! Medication synchronization enables you to pick up all your prescriptions just once a month, so you’ll save time. Plus, new research shows that patients who coordinate their medications are less likely to run out, or miss doses.
- Do you take recreational drugs?
If you sometimes take recreational/party drugs such as marijuana/cannabis, cocaine, mdma, or anything else, it’s a good idea to discuss any concerns you may have about interactions with your pharmacist. At The Village Pharmacy, we have access to a broad database that includes recreational drugs, and we’re happy to discuss your concerns, no judgement.
- Do you need financial help with your co-pays for HIV medications?
Even if you have private insurance or you’re on Trillium, making those co-pays for your HIV medications can sometimes put a strain on your bank balance. If you qualify, we can help you apply for programs that can reduce your out-of-pocket expenses, and save you money.
Schedule a Medication Consultation with your Pharmacist
If you answered yes to even one of the above questions, an annual medication review with your Pharmacist can give you peace of mind when it comes to HIV, and any other medication issues you may have questions about.
How does a Medication Consultation work?
A medication consultation is a 20 to 30 minute, one-on-one consultation between you and your pharmacist. The pharmacist will review all the medications you have been prescribed, and give you a chance to discuss any questions and concerns you have.
You’ll walk away with practical solutions and a plan for how to better manage your medications, and you’ll feel better about your health and well-being.
At The Village Pharmacy, we offer Medication Consultations for all our clients, with a special focus on HIV. And, because all our pharmacists have specialized experience in HIV, you’ll get advice that is well-informed, evidence-based and personalized for you.
Get in touch.
The Village Pharmacy’s second location at 535 Yonge Street now offers HIV medication consultations. Please get in touch to schedule an appointment. And, as always, we’re here for you for all your questions about your HIV medications and your health.