A Pharmacist Isn’t Just A “Medicine Dispenser”… Here Are 8 Things They Can Help You With

Best part? Their advice is completely free.


Yamkela Mdaka |

What do you see when you think of a pharmacist? For many of us, the answer here seems quite simple. A pharmacist is a man or woman who, first of all, can read a doctor’s handwriting (a rare skill!) – and a man or woman who gives you the medicine that’s been prescribed to you. Nothing more to it right? Wrong.

The role of a pharmacist

Pharmacists are more than just “medicine cashiers” – they are qualified health professionals that play an important role in the medical ecosystem.

“Once a patient has been to a doctor or specialist and has received a diagnosis and treatment plan, pharmacists are the last healthcare professionals to have contact with the patient,” Boipelo Modise, a registered pharmacist at Medipost Pharmacy, tells us.

“It’s our duty to ensure that each patient has the correct treatment for the right condition and the right dose for the correct duration.”

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One of the biggest misconceptions that exist about pharmacists is that they simply issue whatever medicine a doctor prescribes.

“We have a responsibility to assess the prescription to make sure that they get the correct treatment for their condition and that the prescribed medicine is safe for use for each specific patient,” he explains. 

READ MORE: Essential Items Every Woman Needs To Have In Her Medicine Cupboard

What can you ask?

So then, what are some of the questions that we can ask a pharmacist that we don’t necessarily need a doctor for? Well, pharmacists can answer any medicine-related questions. A pharmacist can also advise on ailments and whether over-the-counter medication can provide relief or if the patient needs to consult with a doctor. 

With that said, here are the questions you can ask a pharmacist exclusively: 

  • Can I take this medication if I suspect I could be pregnant? 
  • Is it safe to drive while taking this medicine?
  • Can I share my medication with my friend or neighbour?
  • What time of day should I take my medicine? 
  • Do I need to eat before taking medicine?
  • Is this medicine safe to use with alcohol? 
  • Can I throw my expired medication in the municipal rubbish? 
  • Where should I keep my medicine?

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“The pharmacist can also inform patients of any new treatments available in the market, and advise the patient about cost-effective generic medicine options,” Modise explains. 

Over and above that, pharmacists can also tell you if your condition is self-limiting (the condition will resolve itself without the need for treatment). And they are also able to refer you to other health professionals. 

“In short, you can ask your pharmacist anything and we will assist as far as we can because ultimately, we are here to help you.”

The best part about it is that it’s completely free. The next time you’re at a Dis-Chem counter fetching your medicine, maximise the time you have with your pharmacist and ask all your burning questions – you will get answers! 

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READ MORE ON: Health Health Advice