Washington, DC

Female, 32

I've worked as a pharmacist in multiple settings, including retail (think Walgreens), a hospital, a nursing home, an outpatient clinic, and a regulatory agency. Over the past decade, I've counted more pills than Pfizer, Merck, and Lindsay Lohan combined. Ask me anything!

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33 Questions


Last Answer on December 30, 2012

Best Rated

Do you have to carry any sort of malpractice insurance that would cover you if you give someone the wrong prescription or something?

Asked by arizona almost 6 years ago

Usually, employers provide a generic malpractice insurance; however, I purchase additional insurance for greater coverage... just in case.

Have you ever given someone the wrong prescription?

Asked by slowgrind almost 6 years ago

Fortunately, I've been lucky enough to catch my mistakes before they actually reach a patient. Mistakes can occur at any point in the dispensing process though. When I was an intern (a long time ago), a patient came to pick up his medications at the pharmacy but was given another patient's bag of medications. He didn't realize it until a few days later when he noticed the pills look different. It turned out he shared the same last name (no relations) and first name initial with another patient. So when they ask you a million and one questions to verify who you are at the pharmacy, there's a reason for that!

Do you receive a lot of fake prescriptions? What do you do if you suspect a prescription is fake but the customer won't relent?

Asked by Rxxx almost 6 years ago

If a customer becomes belligerent, I will call the manager, who will probably call the police if the person looks like he or she is out of control.

Can medication be taken after the expiration date? Do expiration dates really matter?

Asked by Rxxx almost 6 years ago

As a pharmacist, I can't tell you to take expired pills. As a patient, I will tell you that I do, but I'm not saying that you should do what I do. There are medications that I would not take if they are expired, such as antibiotics, birth control pills, or "narrow therapeutic" drugs. Ask your local pharmacist if the drug you're taking is a "narrow therapeutic drug."

Why is a pharmacist needed to count pills at a pharmacy? Is there something more to it?

Asked by master-of-none almost 6 years ago

Contrary to popular belief, pharmacists do not "just count pills." Pharmacists have to understand the disease states, how the medications work, potential side effects of medications, and possible drug interactions. Now think about how many diseases and medications are out there today. Yeah, I'd say an advanced degree is required.

What kinds of customers do you dread the most?

Asked by Run Rudy Run almost 6 years ago

The ones that get angry at pharmacists for things out of their control, such as your insurance will not cover your very-expensive pills or your very-expensive doctor will not return phone calls.

Do you have a hard time reading doctor Rx handwriting? Sometimes it just looks like a scribble!

Asked by Simon almost 6 years ago

Of course! That's when we call the doc to verify what they thought they were writing :)

Do pharmacies have us wait 15-20 min to fill prescriptions with the hope that we'll shop for other stuff while waiting?

Asked by cynicthehedgehog almost 6 years ago

No, the wait to get a prescription filled is not a ploy to get you to shop in the store. Most retail chain store pharmacists could care less whether you buy anything in the store. If you can wait 45 minutes for a souffle, you should want to wait 20 minutes to make sure you don't get a medication that can potentially kill you.

Are there any prescription drugs that you think should be available over the counter? And vice versa - current OTC drugs that you think should be prescription only?

Asked by ryguy84 almost 6 years ago

Great question! Unfortunately, I'm going to refrain from naming actual drug names to remain unbiased. I believe that the lack of drugs available OTC in the US compared to other countries is primarily because we're "sue-happy." When a drug is available OTC, the assumption is that the consumer is able to determine which OTC drug is appropriate for the symptoms or disease they have, how to monitor the treatment, and when to seek help from a healthcare professional. I'll let you be the judge of which drugs should be prescription and which should be OTC!

Why do so many pharmacists think nothing of just calling out the name of my medication loudly even there are a bunch of other customers there?

Asked by jayjaysmomma almost 6 years ago

The person ringing you up could range from a store cashier, technician, intern, or pharmacist. Your name is private information, but many pharmacies have this practice. I've also seen pharmacies that post up your name on a lighted board when your prescription is ready for pick up. Either way, your name is exposed. If this really bothers you, consider asking the person taking in your prescription to call out a number (or create some other code or pseudonym) instead of your name.

Are ALL the people behind the counter "pharmacists" or are some of them just assistants or apprentices?

Asked by grant almost 6 years ago

There are usually one or two pharmacists behind the counter. The rest are interns or technicians.

About the calling out the name of the medication thing, what if it's something really private -- like AZT to treat HIV...are you instructed to be more discreet about stuff like that?

Asked by Simon almost 6 years ago

They should NEVER call out the name of the medication. And yes, they should be extremely discreet about HIV treatments.

Are you trained in emergency care or CPR? Have you ever had to use it on a customer in the pharmacy?

Asked by art almost 6 years ago

I am currently certified in Basic Life Support (BLS) and was certified in Advanced Cardiac Life Support (ACLS) in the past. I've never had to use it in the pharmacy, but I've been part of a team that responds to Code Blues.

Do pharmacies have a lot of employee theft of pills and medications?

Asked by SNJ almost 6 years ago

I have not witness it myself, but I don't doubt it happens.

While I'd imagine most people haven't experienced both, how difficult is pharmacy school vs. medical school?

Asked by McSteamboat over 5 years ago

Difficult? I guess it's subjective and I didn't go to medical school so it'll be an unfair assessment. I knew people in medical school who struggled with pharmacology. On the flip side, there are people in pharmacy school, myself included, who couldn't stomach the anatomy labs.

Are online pharmacies that ship from Canada or overseas a scam?

Asked by eric almost 6 years ago

You are certainly vulnerable to all sort of shenanigans when you purchase prescription medications from an overseas source. It is VERY difficult for U.S. regulatory agencies to track the entire world wide web, and all the make-shift companies that are out there selling god-knows-what. You are at risk of getting placebos or sugar pills that contain no active ingredients, or pills that are tainted with toxins.

My doctor once forgot to date a prescription, and the pharmacist not only refused to fill it, but CONFISCATED it from me! Is that standard protocol, and if so, WHY?

Asked by Simon almost 6 years ago

I don't believe it's "standard protocol" to confiscate a prescription without a date on it. Although, if it was a controlled substance (think Vicodin, Percocet, etc.), I would have INSISTED on calling your doctor for you to rectify this mistake. You may have encountered a pharmacist who wouldn't take no for an answer!

How long are your shifts and are you on your feet the whole time?

Asked by jasmine almost 6 years ago

Shifts may change from setting to setting, but they're usually at least 8-hour days. In retail, being on your feet all day is an occupational hazard.

Is there any real difference between branded medications vs generics? Besides the price, of course.

Asked by Whynot almost 6 years ago

I'm going to defer to the FDA on this one...

What separates a good pharmacist from a bad one? Like...beyond making sure that the prescriptions are filled correctly, what kind of feedback or results tell you that you're doing your job well?

Asked by annesmith almost 6 years ago

Specifically for retail pharmacists, such as the ones you see in your local pharmacies, filling prescriptions correctly is their number one priority. They should also be available and be able to tell you about the medications they're filling for you, and answer your questions about prescription and over-the-counter medications.

What can I do if the pharmacy gave me expired SPRIX® (ketorolac tromethamine)?

Asked by Lori over 4 years ago


Hi, I went to the clinic a little under 3 months ago to get my first set of birthcontrol, but I just noticed the last package has a sticker over the expiration date which says may 14, but the one on the sticker says may 31st. Is it safe to take?

Asked by Tawny almost 4 years ago


Is relent a narrow therapeutic drug? Expiry date mentioned on it is September 2013. Can I use it?

Asked by Ganesh Raman TR over 3 years ago


Is relent tab a narrow therapeutic drug? Can I use it after its expiry date? The expiry date mentioned on the tab is September 2013.

Asked by ganeshramantr over 3 years ago


Which drugs do you fill the most prescriptions for?

Asked by tempsus about 5 years ago


My retail pharmacy gave me white powder in my capsules of generic adderall xr vs beads. My doc. said the white powder is wrong. Whose responsible for correcting this? The pharm. said I had to contact the pharmaceu. comp to file a complaint.

Asked by Belinda about 5 years ago


My regular birth control is Gildess FE 1/20. Walgreens gave me the off-brand, Microgestin FE 1/20. It is a Sunday today, and every office is closed. What should I do? Take the pills? I don't want to risk getting pregnant.

Asked by Jada over 2 years ago


My regular birth control is Gildess FE 1/20. Walgreens gave me the off-brand, Microgestin FE 1/20. It is a Sunday today, and every office is closed. What should I do? Take the pills? I don't want to risk getting pregnant.

Asked by Jada over 2 years ago


Is it worth getting a PhD in pharmaceutical science after a Pharm.D.? What kind of job can you get and approximately how much total schooling is required?

Asked by Nitin almost 2 years ago


How do pharmacists use their chemistry backgrounds on the job?

Asked by Cool Cal 22 about 5 years ago


I'm looking to become a pharmacist in the future, if I tell a pharmacist that I wanted to gain experience to see how a pharmacy works by working behind the counter at his pharmacy, in your point of view, would he give me the job?

Asked by DS almost 5 years ago


I am seeing that there is a database where prescription refills for abused drugs are logged. Is ther ea way to get to this information or get a print out of someone else to veiw how often they are filling a prescription?

Asked by Dra almost 5 years ago


Is it posible for a pharmacy to give me expired pills? I take Wellbutrin and been talking it for over a year and this last bottle I went to pick up, since Ive started taking it I feel diffrently.

Asked by ALexia over 3 years ago